THE National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has been urged to raise the level of standby power available to it in order to ensure continuous power should any of the generating plants supplying the grid experience outages.

The standby power is known as ancillary services, which the NGCP must enter into contracts for so they can be tapped when needed.

“The flow of energy should be stable and dependable to ensure operational reliability and prevent power outages that adversely impact the lives of our people and the economy in general,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in a statement. “NGCP must do its job and contract ancillary services.”

The Luzon grid was placed on red alert last month, signifying a deterioration in the supply-demand balance that requires power rationing, which is carried out via rotating brownouts.

Mr. Gatchalian said ancillary services contracts for 899 megawatts (MW) are due to expire next year, while another 568 MW will expire in 2024.

Given the Philippines’ vulnerability to natural calamities, Mr. Gatchalian said an uninterrupted power supply is critical to support infrastructure and services used in the recovery and rehabilitation effort.

“The NGCP should not neglect its duty of contracting ancillary services so that we can ensure continuous energy supply and avoid the harm caused by constant brownouts to our citizens,” he said.

The NGCP and its regulator have been in dispute about the appropriate level of ancillary service contracts to enter into. The grid operator incurs costs for the right to have ancillary power on standby.

Mr. Gatchalian backed the Energy Regulatory Commission’s issuance of a show cause order to the NGCP over its failure to comply with its obligation to contract adequate ancillary services.

“I encourage the ERC to continue to watch over those who are responsible to fulfill their duty to ensure that the entire country has an adequate supply of electricity,” he said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan