DOE promises steady electricity amid heat and conservation call

Amid the sweltering heat of the summer and the drying grip of the El Niño, the Department of Energy (DOE) has stood at the helm, assuring the public of a reliable electricity supply.

The DOE’s vigilant monitoring of the country’s power situation becomes even more crucial as temperatures soar during the next three months.

In anticipation of the heightened demand for electricity, particularly for cooling, the DOE urges the public to remain steadfast in energy conservation practices.

The strategy is not only eco-conscious but is also aimed at reducing the operational costs of oil-based power plants that come into play during peak demand periods.

The DOE’s commitment to maintaining the grid’s integrity is evident through their meticulous update of the power outlook, accounting for any operational changes in power generating units.

Coordination with other government agencies ensures regulatory requirements for power facilities are met timely, reinforcing the energy sector’s resilience.

A key directive has been issued to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), as the Transmission Network Provider (TNP), to expedite the completion of significant transmission projects.

These projects, including the Hermosa-San Jose 500 kV Transmission Project and the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) 230 kV Stage 3 backbone project, are pivotal for enhancing the grid’s capability.

The latter is anticipated to be operational by the end of March 2024, as committed by the NGCP.

Furthermore, the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) handles the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) registration for new power generation facilities, ensuring their seamless integration into the market.

Power generation companies are reminded of their obligations to adhere to the DOE-approved Grid Operating and Maintenance Program.

Their compliance, especially in limiting forced outages within the allowance set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), is critical in mitigating power supply interruptions.

To bolster emergency preparedness, the DOE has confirmed that the NGCP and all distribution utilities (DUs) are ready to activate and implement their Interruptible Load Program (ILP).

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) provides the necessary support to electric cooperatives (ECs) for their ILP implementation, exemplifying a collaborative approach to managing energy resources.

Current simulations from the DOE highlight a potential Yellow Alert for the Luzon grid in April and May, with hydroelectric power plants operating below capacity due to the El Niño phenomenon.

However, the Visayas and Mindanao grids are expected to maintain a normal reserve level in the second quarter of the year. The DOE assures the public that contingency measures are in place, ready to be implemented as developments unfold.

Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla emphasizes the critical period.

“The summer period exerts significant pressure on electricity demand due to increased cooling needs, leading to peak demand shifts in consumption and infrastructure strain. We are, therefore, closely coordinating with all stakeholders to carefully manage and plan for the effects of the summer period and the ongoing El Niño to ensure reliable and sustainable electricity supply.”

CONSERVE ENERGY

As the Lenten season draws near, the DOE is actively engaging oil companies to provide essential services on the roads to support the anticipated increase in traffic.

The DOE’s call comes as Filipinos prepare for Holy Week, traditionally a time when many travel to their home provinces for religious observances and to reunite with family.

Secretary Lotilla has urged the oil industry to step up during this busy period.

“Let us assist them in safely navigating their way during these busy travel periods by implementing initiatives that will enhance their overall travel experience and promote road safety campaigns,” he said. The objective is to ensure that motorists have a smooth travel experience, minimizing potential stressors that could arise due to vehicle influx.

Acknowledging the international market’s influence on oil prices, Secretary Lotilla expressed the DOE’s intent to offset these pressures with efficient service. He highlighted the importance of well-stocked service stations capable of handling the surge in travel and extended operating hours to accommodate the needs of the motoring public.

As major roads and highways brace for increased vehicle flow, Lotilla has suggested that oil companies participate in community outreach programs.

These initiatives could involve collaborations with car manufacturers for road safety campaigns, offering support for local traffic management, and providing timely information on road conditions, alternate routes, and emergency contacts. Such measures are essential in preventing traffic bottlenecks and ensuring a smooth flow of vehicles to and from pilgrimage and vacation sites.

With electrical safety in focus, Secretary Lotilla reminds households of the importance of checking and securing their electrical appliances and systems before leaving their homes.

“Before hitting the long drive this Holy Week, we advise our homeowners to inspect their electrical outlets, cords, and extension cords thoroughly for any damage, and to repair damaged components to prevent the risks of electrical hazards, such as short circuits or electrical fires,” he advised.

The DOE’s concern is not unfounded. Electrical fires can result from simple oversights in safety, such as a short circuit or loose connections. These faults can cause an unexpected increase in current flow, overheating wires and potentially leading to fires that threaten both lives and property.

The Lenten season’s spirit is also a period to reflect on the safety and security of the community.

As many Filipinos return to their hometowns, they are reminded to take preventative measures against electrical hazards.

The DOE suggests unplugging non-essential devices such as TVs, computers, chargers, and small appliances, as an additional precaution.

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