An energy official has assured that there will be no yellow and red alerts issued until the end of the year in the National Capital Region (NCR) even as he bared the agency’s plan to seek amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) as a way to improve the electricity supply in the Philippines.
Director Michael Sinocruz of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Policy and Planning Bureau gave the assurance to the private sector in a September 15 online meeting organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).
A yellow alert is issued when the excess power is insufficient to meet the transmission grid’s regulating and contingency requirement. It becomes a red alert if the supply-demand balance worsens further, to the extent of requiring rotating brownouts.
“Based on the data submitted to us, we can see no yellow and red alerts in the coming days up to December because cool months na tayo so na-re-reduce yung ating consumption ng air-con so yung peak demand natin medyo mababa, unlike during peak months nung summer dun mataas ang ating requirement,” he said, in response to PCCI president George Barcelon questioning the reliability of the power supply in Metro Manila with the recent issuance of yellow and red alerts over Luzon.
Earlier this week, on September 12, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) placed the Luzon Grid under yellow and red alert status after the forced outages experienced by seven power plants.
Sinocruz said: “Ang nagiging problema lang natin dito is all generating companies right now should submit a three-year plan in terms of their outage and maintenance plan to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. That will be part of the grid operating and maintenance plan of the NGCP. That should be followed so the generating company should comply with this policy. That is why we are proposing amendments to the EPIRA to provide the Department of Energy with additional power imposing penalties kasi some of them are not complying, to be able for us to monitor or reduce the outages.”
Barcelon expressed support for the idea. “We’re more than willing to provide that support. If for us to make more noises would help you, tuloy mo na yung sinabi na me penalty dapat kung di nila matupad yung commitment nila. Otherwise one way lang whether they deliver satisfactorily kung hindi walang penalty, pero ang laking bagay sa ekonomiya natin. Please, now that you’ve mentioned it, go ahead and make some noises on that and we in the private sector will fully back you up,” he said.
The EPIRA, or Republic Act (RA) No. 9136, was enacted in 2001 to institute reforms and provide the principal regulatory framework for the Philippine electricity industry. The law mandates the government to promote the utilization of indigenous, new, and renewable energy resources in power generation to reduce dependence on imported energy.
Sinocruz in the PCCI open forum added that they hope to address through the amendments to the EPIRA the outages and other issues hounding the sector, including constraints and delays in the approval of projects.
He said they have not yet submitted their recommendations to amend the Act “but we already discussed this with the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office.”
Sinocruz also gave updates on the DOE’s other activities. On the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act or EVIDA, he disclosed that an inter-agency committee has been created to enable the implementation of the law, which outlines the regulatory framework and creates a comprehensive roadmap for the operation of electric vehicles in the Philippines.
With the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the EVIDA already published, “we can now proceed with the formulation of the roadmap.” He continued that they will also be issuing specific guidelines to enable the efficient implementation of the provisions of the IRR and the EVIDA.
Meanwhile, Sinocruz also shared plans to amend Presidential Decree (PD) No. 87, otherwise known as “The Oil Exploration and Development Act of 1972.” “To be able to intensify exploration of our indigenous resources, there is a move right now to amend the PD 87 because it is very old na so even the 60-40 share kailangan ng clarification,” he said.
PD 87 provides the legal basis for the exploration and development of indigenous petroleum resources in the country, authorizing the grant of service contracts entered into through public bidding or negotiations. It provides that the government is entitled to the equivalent of 60% of net proceeds from the sale of petroleum.
The energy executive said the agency is seeking to amend the law to clarify unclear provisions and attract more investors as he observed that other countries, including ASEAN peers, have more enticing incentives, “so we need to revise PD 87 for us to be more attractive to investors upstream.”