Power demand falls after return to strict lockdown

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PEAK electricity demand “drastically” declined in the first week of August after Metro Manila and adjacent provinces returned to a stricter form of lockdown, known as modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), due to mounting coronavirus infections.

In the July billing period, the quarantine, coupled with the start of the rainy season, tempered average power demand in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market compared to June, according to the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP).

“Historically, mataas ang July (July is typically high-demand). But because of this continuous lockdown, medyo tempered ang demand natin (demand has been tempered),” IEMOP Chief Operating Officer Robinson P. Descanzo told reporters in a virtual briefing, Tuesday.

Average demand last month was 10,135 megawatts (MW) at P2.08 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared to July’s 10,174 MW and P3.19/kWh.

However, this further went down upon the imposition of the modified enhanced community quarantine at the start of August.


“Peak demand drastically dropped (by) about 700 MW,” the official said, citing the decrease to 11,533 MW on Aug. 4 from 12,229 MW recorded on July 27.

Electricity usage by businesses declined with establishments running at half of their capacity.

Still, the lockdown had “minimal” impact on the system’s average demand on a weekly basis, to 9,425 MW from 9,472 MW.

On a year-on-year basis, maximum demand declined by 3.4% or 424 MW. If a relaxed form of quarantine continues until December, a year-on-year reduction in demand of between 300 to 400 MW will be sustained monthly, Mr. Descanzo said.

After the lockdown is lifted, peak demand may rise by around 500 MW, “and that will be sustained towards the Christmas period because of the other economic activities expected in that period,” he added.

Meanwhile, the spot market’s supply increased to 14,027 MW last month representing an improvement over the past three months.

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal reverted to MECQ until Aug. 18. — Adam J. Ang