Gov't assures public of 'comfortable' power supply during elections

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The Energy Department there will be sufficient supply of power on election day as well the rest of summer.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of Energy (DOE) has promised there will be a "comfortable" supply of power for the national elections and for the rest of the summer.

The regulator has been meeting with power generators and distributors, as well as electric cooperatives, to assess their preparations ahead of the polls.

Industry players are required to schedule their maintenance activities either a week before or a week after the elections, Energy Sec. Zenaida Monsada said in a press conference on Monday (April 25).

In the days surrounding May 9, all plants must be able to operate – and at full capacity.

"We will have a comfortable power supply, especially in Luzon and the Visayas, throughout the summer and, of course, during the elections," Monsada said.

Read: Officials working on ensuring power supply on May 9

Mindanao still has a power shortage, she noted, but all supply will be diverted to voting centers on May 9. Residential areas will see rotating blackouts.

Across the country, emergency crews will be on standby to service power plants in case they trip on election day.

In Visayas and Mindanao, the interruptible load program (ILP) will also be implemented as a back-up plan.

Large power users will be instructed to use their own generators to ease the load on the grid in exchange for compensation.

"We already conducted a drill for ILP participants to make sure their generators work and they have enough fuel in case," Monsada said.

"We need to simulate the situation since generators will typically need two hours to get to full operations."

No emergency powers

The Energy chief assured the situation was under control and there was no need to grant the government emergency powers.

Emergency powers were proposed in Congress in 2012 after persistent blackouts hit Mindanao.

"If we saw a need for emergency powers, we would have said so earlier. There are only two weeks left before the elections," Monsada said.

She said the department has learned its lesson from previous years. She also thanked industry players for working together to ensure adequate and uninterrupted power supply during this critical season.

As temperatures hit record highs and more users switched on their air-conditioning in previous weeks, the demand for power surged to never-before-seen levels. The national power grid hit red alert status as reserves ran low.

Read: Power supply in Luzon back to normal

But Monsada said there would be roughly 12,000 megawatts (MW) available in Luzon alone, with the 145-MW San Roque hydro power plant back online after May 2 and the 650-MW Malaya thermal power plant on standby.

This supply is well above the peak demand of 9,700 MW notched last week.

She said emergency powers are typically triggered when power reserves fall below 1,700 MW.