THE Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) said Thursday that the average spot market price in March hit P4.16 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) or nearly double the February level of P2.22 per kWh due to an increase in unplanned generator outages and higher demand.

The price data are from the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM).

In a briefing, IEMOP Manager for Pricing Validation and Analysis John Paul S. Grayda said that “there were several generators on emergency shutdown due to unplanned outages.” He said this caused supply to drop last month.

“The high prices are caused by the increase in demand and unplanned outages,” Mr. Grayda said.

IEMOP Head of Corporate Strategy and Communications Isidro E. Cacho, Jr. said that “changes in spot prices only had impacts on quantities which were bought from the market.”

Last month, three generators experienced unplanned outages, according to IEMOP data. These include the 382-megawatt (MW) Pagbilao Unit 2, the 647-MW Sual Unit 1, and the 316-MW GN Power Unit 2.

Meanwhile, three plants were on extended outages, while six others had outages for maintenance.

IEMOP said in a statement that coal plants accounted for 75.44% of the capacity in outage status last month.

Power generation from coal and geothermal plants fell to 53.9% and 10.5% respectively compared to their February levels. However, output from natural gas plants increased to 23.5% from 22.3% month on month.

At the briefing, Mr. Grayda also noted system peak demand of 12,582 MW on March 18.

After the government implemented the strictest form of lockdown in Metro Manila and nearby provinces on March 29, system peak demand fell by around 470 MW, according to Mr. Grayda.

Aside from operating the WESM, the IEMOP is also in charge of the central registration body for the retail electricity market. — Angelica Y. Yang