February 23, 2024

Department of Energy Sec. Raphael Lotilla said there is an adequate power supply next year, but added the agency is not discounting the possibility of interruptions.

In a press briefing, Lotilla said even with sufficient power supply, the agency is not putting aside the possibility of power interruptions as hydropower plants are derated by 70 percent for the first half of 2024 and coal-fired power plants are not in their optimal levels during dry season.

 “We are already advised by the Pagasa to prepare for the El Niño. That is why we are not utilizing the Angat power plant. It is undergoing repair and maintenance during this period, so that it will not use up the water needed for agriculture and water supply,” he said, adding that the Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) hydroelectric power plant is also undergoing maintenance.

Electric Power Industry Management Bureau Director Irma Exconde said the DOE expects that growth in power demand during the El Niño next year will be higher compared to the El Niño phenomenon in 2010.

Exconde said growth in power demand in 2024 is projected to rise by 10.9 percent and 17.6 percent in the Luzon and Visayas grids, respectively, higher than the 10.5 percent increase in Luzon and 15.3 percent increment in Visayas in 2010.

In the Mindanao grid, power demand growth is also expected to climb to 11.6 percent next year from 9 percent during the El Niño in 2016.

In 2024, peak demand in the Luzon grid is projected at 13,917 megawatts, 2,891 MW in Visayas and 2,584 MW in Mindanao, she said.

Peak demand this year was at 12,550 MW in Luzon, 2,458 MW in Visayas and 2,315 MW in Mindanao.

On the sidelines of the press briefing, Exconde said of the 2,050 MW hydropower capacity the DOE is monitoring, the 70-percent deration means 1,435 MW of power capacity will be out from the grid during the dry season.

Amid the El Niño phenomenon, the country will take advantage of solar power, as 700 to 1,200 MW capacity from solar power farms is expected to go online in 2024, Exconde said.

“We will be issuing soon the expanded mounted solar rooftop program, which simplifies the rules on rooftop solar for own use or export to distribution utilities for solar above 100 kilowatt-hour production,” Lotilla said.

Aside from solar power, the DOE chief said diversifying power resources, which include increasing the use of natural gas, will help in minimizing power interruptions next year.

Lotilla said hydropower plants in Mindanao are less being affected by the El Niño next year, which can support the supply in the Luzon and Visayas grids. The supply from Mindanao can be delivered to Visayas through the MVIP.

The DOE chief also urged Filipinos to practice energy efficiency and conservation to mitigate power demand amid the El Niño.

This includes using light-emitting diode lights and not plugging in unnecessary appliances during peak hours. – PNA