POWER DEMAND in 2020 is expected to peak in June at around 14,191 megawatts (MW), reflecting heavy usage towards the tail end of the dry season, the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, Inc. (IEMOP) said.

IEMOP, which operates the electricity spot market, said Thursday that new power supply that came online in 2019 will only cover the additional requirements of consumers in Luzon and the Visayas, the two parts of the country connected to the wholesale market.

In a briefing, IEMOP said supply from new power plants last year added around 810 MW to the system, just enough to cover the forecast increase in peak demand of 741 MW.

Robinson P. Descanzo, IEMOP chief operating officer and head of trading operations, said if unscheduled or forced shutdowns happen in June, power supply will barely keep up with demand.

“In actual operations, you need to allow for unexpected unplanned outages,” he said.

He said GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. (GNPD), a power plant project led by Aboitiz Power Corp., will come online only in June after the company gave notice of a further delay in the facility’s commercial run.

Last year, Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd. started operating its third unit with a capacity of 355 MW, along with San Buenaventura Power Ltd.’s 455-MW coal-fired power plant.

“Barely enough (from) Masinloc and San Buenaventura,” he said.

Mr. Descanzo said IEMOP’s forecast was based on the power development plan of the Department of Energy (DoE) covering 2016 to 2040, which estimated demand growth in Luzon and Visayas at 4.9% and 6.9%, respectively.

IEMOP issued a market demand forecast for Luzon and the Visayas where the wholesale electricity spot market operates. Electricity trading in Mindanao has yet to start.

On average, the monthly increase in demand in the two power grids is 691.3 MW, Mr. Descanzo said. This year’s projected growth rate of 5.6% is stronger than the previous year’s 4%, but below those in 2018 and 2017 at 6.4% and 5.7%, respectively.

In November, AboitizPower’s Emmanuel V. Rubio, who became the company’s president and chief executive officer this year, said the Dinginin plant, which has two identical units with a net capacity of 668 MW each, will go online with its first unit “probably earliest is April and the other unit is towards fourth quarter of 2020.”

The plant’s first unit was previously scheduled to run in October.

Earlier this month, DoE Assistant Secretary Redentor E. Delola saw demand in Luzon peaking at 12,286 MW, and those of Visayas and Mindanao at 2,419 MW and 2,278 MW, respectively.

He said peak power demand in the Visayas and Mindanao may have moved towards the dry-season months or similar to when Luzon traditionally reaches its biggest usage in a year. He added that the DoE is bracing for the possibility that the three island groups will be requiring more electricity at around the same period.

Mr. Delola said traditionally the Visayas and Mindanao registered peak demand towards the end of the year, which is favorable for the power system as the requirement is spread throughout the year. — Victor V. Saulon