May 20, 2022

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IMEE: MAY 9 ELECTIONS NEED POWER SUPPLY FALLBACK

Senator Imee Marcos has called on the government to firm up measures to manage, if not prevent, power outages when votes are cast and counted in national and local elections next month.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms,  said uncertainty remains over ample power supply during and after the May 9 elections due to conflicting claims made by the Department of Energy (DOE) and private groups including the non-governmental organization Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC).

The DOE told Marcos’s office on Monday that the agency’s projections based on a four-year record show that yellow or red alerts are unlikely in May, but a spike in demand may be seen two weeks after the elections.

Meanwhile, the ICSC predicts a 1,335-megawatt deficit in Luzon within the April-to-June period when power consumption usually reaches its peak.

“A fallback mechanism is urgent, besides just adjusting facility maintenance schedules. We can’t leave things to chance,” Marcos said.

Marcos doubted that power supply could be augmented by the time elections take place because the DOE and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) have not yet finalized the terms of reference for contracting reserves.

To manage possible blackouts, Marcos urged the DOE to revisit its Interruptible Load Program (ILP) which could ease the burden on electrical power grids during and after the May 9 elections.

“If electrical consumption reaches yellow or red alert status, the ILP can engage corporate customers of power distributors like Meralco to activate their generators for electrical demand downstream, instead of drawing supply from the power grids,” the senator explained.

“The government must be clear on how the ILP can be implemented especially in election hotspots where local terrorist groups may try to sabotage the elections,” Marcos added.

Marcos also said that harnessing wind, solar, and nuclear energy to augment power supply should be among the main concerns of the next administration.

“The building of more coal-fired power plants was suspended last year, but Ilocos Norte’s success with solar and wind farms has shown the way for renewable energy use on a national scale,” the province’s former governor said.(PR)