THE ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION (ERC) has issued a resolution that adds other circumstances that will prompt distribution utilities, including the country’s biggest — Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), to activate their interruptible load program (ILP) and ease energy demand in the system.

“We saw the urgency to clarify the Amended ILP Rules that we issued, particularly as to what is contemplated by the phrase ‘such other minimum threshold’ that would constitute as a condition to activate the ILP. Therefore, we would like to clarify that the phrase, ‘such other minimum threshold’ refers to the emergency state of the grid as defined in the Philippine Grid Code (PGC) 2016 Edition,” said Agnes VST Devanadera, ERC chairperson and chief executive officer, said in a statement on Thursday.

Under the amended ILP rules, distribution utilities may also activate the scheme during other grid conditions, including “emergency state” as defined under the PGC. The amendment comes years after the program was adopted by the ERC in 2010.

ILP seeks to lower the peak demand, thus reducing the stress to the grid.

Meralco and other distribution utilities resorted to the program, which calls on customers to voluntarily de-load or disconnect from the power grid for a limited period whenever the power supply is constricted.

Previously, ILP is activated only when system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) declares that the grid is on red alert, or when its dispatchable and contingency reserves have been wiped.

Both reserves are equivalent to the biggest operating plant online — the two identical units of the power plant in Sual, Pangasinan each with a capacity of 647 megawatts (MW).

Under Section GO (grid operations) of the PGC 2016 Edition, the grid is considered to be in emergency state when either a single or multiple outages occur without resulting in total system blackout, but any one of the following conditions exists: there is a generation deficiency or operating margin is zero; the grid transmission voltage is outside the limits of 0.90 per unit and 1.10 per unit of the nominal value; or the loading level of any transmission line or substation equipment is above 11% of its operational thermal limit capacity.

Ms. Devanadera said in view of the clarification, the NGCP is directed to call on distribution utility-ILP administrators to implement their respective ILPs, particularly during situations of red alert and emergency state, as specified in the grid code.

The ERC clarification comes a few days before the mid-term elections on Monday, for which Meralco and NGCP have issued separate advisories on Thursday about their contingency measures for May 13.

Meralco said more than 150 generator sets are on standby on election day, to be carried by roving crews.

“These generator sets intend to provide basic lighting to polling and canvassing places in case of unexpected power interruptions. Around 300 floodlights will also be ready for deployment and use in case of emergencies, but Meralco also advises polling centers to bring backup lights as well as extra precautionary measure,” it said. “On May 13, Meralco will have on duty 300 responding crews, who will be working 24/7 to ensure that Meralco is prepared to respond to any eventualities.” — VVS