THE Energy department expects power demand in Luzon in 2020 to peak at 12,286 megawatts (MW), which will be reached around the dry-season months, at a growth rate that is in line with performance seen in recent years.

“We’re basically growing like around 700 MW to 800 MW per year,” Energy Assistant Secretary Redentor E. Delola said in a chance interview.

“Next year, tinitingnan natin (we’re looking at 12,286 MW peak demand sa (in) Luzon,” he added.

Mr. Delola said the Department of Energy (DoE) has yet to finalize the estimates for the country’s separate power grids in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao ahead of DoE’s preparations, including its call for power plant operators to explain their facilities’ recent de-ratings, or production of energy below the rated capacity.

Sa Visayas and Mindanao hindi masyadong problema ang next year as far as supply (Visayas and Mindanao will not be much of a problem in terms of supply)” he said.

Sa Mindanao talagang sobra sobra. Sa Visayas medyo comfortable ang level natin ng supply. Sa Visayas kasi nagpi-peak si Luzon hindi naman nagpi-peak si Visayas, so nakakatulong si Luzon (In Mindanao, there is oversupply. In the Visayas, supply is at a comfortable level, because Visayas’ power demand peaks at a time when Luzon is not. So Luzon helps)” he added.

Mr. Delola said the department’s focus is on Luzon, where reserve power thins during the dry season. But he said a new power plant would come online early next year — the first unit of GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co.’s supercritical coal-fired power plant.

GNPower Dinginin, in Bataan, has two units, each with a capacity of 668 MW. The first unit was initially expected to start commercial operations towards end-2019.

“‘Yan ‘yung gusto namin na pumasok (That’s what we want to come in) before summer. So we’re coordinating with the proponent kung ano ang mga problema nila, pwede ba nilang ma-expedite? (what their problems are, and if they can expedite),” Mr. Delola said.

“Hopefully, makapasok siya ng April, kasi makakatulong siya sa atin sa summer (I hope they can come in by April, because the plant can help in the summer),” he said.

He said it helps that the 500-MW San Buenaventura Power Ltd. Co. (SBPL), the country’s first supercritical coal-fired power plant, now provides additional supply to the Luzon grid. SBPL started commercial operations on Sept. 26.

Itong Luzon ang tinitingnan natin ngayon. If Malaya privatization pushes through, so mawawala siya sa mid next year if the proponent or the winning bidder decides not to run it as a power plant kasi open yun eh, so mawawalan tayo ng 150 MW (It’s Luzon that we’re looking at. If Malaya’s privatization pushes through, it will be out of the mix next year if the proponent or the winning bidder decides not to run it as a power plant because it’s option is open, so we will lose 150 MW.),” Mr. Delola said.

Last month, the second attempt of state-led Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. to auction the Malaya thermal power plant failed anew as most of the pre-qualified bidders retreated, and a lone bidder submitted an offer below the floor price.

The Malaya plant remains operational and being dispatched as a “must-run” unit. A must-run plant is compelled to run and provide the needed power as deemed necessary to ensure reliability of power supply in the Luzon grid, especially in times of supply shortfall, system security and voltage support.

Mr. Delola said the DoE is coordinating with the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) for Luzon to import more power from the Visayas.

Nasa range lang siya ng mga 100 MW. Gusto nating umabot siya ng 250 MW. Capable naman ang Visayas magbato ng 250 MW. The line is capable of carrying 400 MW (The power import is just around 100 MW. We want this to reach 250 MW. Visayas is capable of exporting 250 MW. The line is capable of carrying 400 MW.)” he said. — Victor V. Saulon