THE National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said on Tuesday that it expects power supplies to be thin during the dry season due to increased demand, possibly affecting the national elections in May.

The grid operator said in a statement that due to the unpredictability of outages, it cannot assure adequate supply even though its maintenance schedule planning scheme, known as the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP), is showing no periods in which outages are expected.

The GOMP, which was approved by the Department of Energy (DoE) on Jan. 10, consolidates the preventive maintenance schedules of power plants, indicating how much power will be rendered inaccessible on the maintenance days.

“We have coordinated with the generation and distribution sectors so that we could optimize and rationalize our own maintenance schedules, to ensure sufficiency, at least on paper, of power supply throughout the year,” the NGCP said.

But while the GOMP gave no indication of thinning reserves, yellow alerts were raised over the Luzon grid this month after the power supply failed to meet the transmission grid’s regulating and contingency reserve minimums.

“On paper, there appears to be sufficient supply to meet demand; but the plan on paper, the GOMP, is not always followed. It is when there are unscheduled shutdowns and derations, and extensions of maintenance duration, that grid operations may be disrupted enough to warrant the issuance of a grid alert status,” the NGCP said.

According to the NGCP, the DoE forecast peak demand of 12,387 megawatts (MW) for Luzon to take place in the last week of May, 747 MW higher than the actual 2021 peak of 11,640 MW which occurred on May 28, 2021.

The Luzon grid peaked at 11,344 MW on June 21, 2019 and 11,103 MW on March 1, 2020.

The Visayas grid is expected to peak at 2,528 MW, up from the 2,252 MW peak recorded on Dec. 13, 2021, while the Mindanao grid is expected to peak at 2,223 MW, against the 2,144 MW peak on Aug. 4, 2021.

“As the transmission service provider, we can only give an overview of the current supply and demand situation, and endeavor to dispatch any and all available grid resources. It cannot intervene on matters concerning power generation,” the NGCP said. 

Although the yellow alert issued earlier was just a warning, a red alert can also be issued when demand exceeds supply, which will force the grid to ration power.

The NGCP issued red alerts between May 31 and June 2 last year as unplanned maintenance shutdowns and the derating of power plant output led to rotational brownouts.

The grid company said legislators must enact demand-side measures to head off future power issues in the coming months, particularly during election season in May.

Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella on Tuesday said at a news conference to discuss the restoration of power in areas hit by Typhoon Odette the department will focus on addressing concerns about the dry-season peak next. — Marielle C. Lucenio