THE ENERGY Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it expects no power interruptions during the campaign, election, and canvassing period, with contracts for reserve power currently awaiting approval.

“We have been holding consultations with electricity stakeholders, primarily with the DoE (Department of Energy) and NGCP (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines), to ensure that such (a) scenario will not happen,” ERC Commissioner Floresinda B. Digal said in a Viber message to BusinessWorld.

Ms. Digal has said that NGCP has entered into firm contracts for power reserves, which are pending approval by the ERC. “We are communicating with the generators to ensure that they run their plants in accordance with existing standards to ensure efficient supply.”

She noted that the ERC is monitoring NGCP’s compliance with the DoE Circulars on ancillary services, the regulator’s term for the reserves that may be tapped should baseload supply run low.

Legislators urged the ERC to ensure continuous power during the election period, after the NGCP forecast possible red alerts on the Luzon grid between April and June.

The election is on May 9. Red alerts are raised when demand is projected to exceed supply, triggering power rationing.

Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel urged the ERC to ensure adequate and reliable supply of electricity during and after the election to head off any doubts about the integrity of the poll result.

“We need to ensure that there will be continuous power supply in the country during the elections,” she said in a statement. “There should be strict coordination and teamwork between the DoE, the ERC, and other sectors in the power industry to resolve this perennial problem.”

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate noted the NGCP’s projection as “worrisome” as red alerts might come “smack in the middle of the election period.”

He noted the yellow alerts on Jan. 10 and 11 on the Luzon grid due to forced plant shutdowns. Yellow alerts are raised when supply thins below a specified safety margin.

“Energy Secretary Alfonso (G.) Cusi claimed (the DoE has) devised plans to prevent brownouts during the elections, but apparently this is not what is happening in reality,” he said in an earlier statement, noting as well the continuing inability to supply the typhoon zones in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Ms. Hontiveros noted that in previous Senate hearings, industry representatives and the DoE had floated solutions like firm NGCP ancillary services contracts and the minimization of unplanned maintenance shutdowns on the part of the generation companies.

Ms. Digal said that consultations with key stakeholders are constantly taking place. “We already have existing mechanisms, we just have to monitor compliance of stakeholders,” she added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan