THE SENATE energy committee on Thursday will hold a hearing to look into the unscheduled power plant shutdowns that may result in rotating power outages until June.

“We will a conduct a hearing. Ang focus namin, number one, ’yung outages prior to Holy Week; number two, ’yung forecast from now to June, including the May 13 elections; and of course, reforms that we should introduce para di na mangyari ito (Our focus is, number one, the outages prior to Holy Week; number two, the forecast from now to June, including the May 13 elections; and of course reforms that we should introduce so this doesn’t happen again),” committee chair Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in a briefing Wednesday.

“There are about six power plants so dun tayo mag fo-focus at titingnan natin kung ano ba talaga ang dahilan kung bakit nasira at kung legitimate ba ang dahilan ng pagkasira (we will focus on six power plants to look into the reasons they went down, and whether the reasons are legitimate),” he added.

He said that he calculates there will be sufficient reserves to power the electronic voting systems to be used in the midterm elections on May 13, but he expects power outages until June.

“On May 13, in our analysis, hindi tayo magkakaroon ng brownout dahil walang pasok. Kahit may pumalyang planta, we will still have enough reserves to have the electronic voting, but from now to June, pag may pasok, then we will, ang aking forecast, we will have moments of brownouts or red alerts (According to our analysis, there will be no brownots on May 13 because it’s a holiday, and there will be enough reserves even if some plants fail. But from now to June, on days where there is work, we will have brownouts or red alerts),” he said.

He added the committee will also tackle post-earthquake scenarios, in light of power interruptions following the 6.1-magnitude quake that hit Central Luzon and a 6.5-magnitude earthquake on Samar island.

Mr. Gatchalian added that he is drafting a bill that will introduce penalties for any failure to comply with power plant maintenance schedules.

He said based on data from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and Department of Energy (DoE), new power plants with around 600 megawatts capacity in total have been delayed in coming onstream.

Maraming planta na dapat pumasok ngayon ay hindi pa pumapasok, na-delay. There are more or less 600 MW new capacity na dapat pumasok (There are many plants that were expected to contribute power to the grid that have failed to do so, We estimate more or less 600 MW in new power capacity that should have come in by now,” he said. “Ano ang penalty kung delayed ang pagpasok? We also found out na walang penalty (We found out that there is no penalty for delayed plant activation). That is one of the reforms we have to do.”

Tiningnan ko ano ’yung mga dahilan ng pagpalya, marami doon forced outage, unplanned outage, in both cases, wala ring disincentive o wala ring penalty ’yung mga plantang pumalya (There does not appear to be any disincentive or penalty for plants that fail),” he added.

When asked about the size of the fines he is considering, he said: “We’re still in the process (of studying the issue), but enough penalty na ’yung mga hindi tumtupad sa timeframe eh, mabigat para sa kanila para tumupad (but it has to be burdensome enough to force compliance for those who do not activate plants on schedule.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan