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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Escudero refutes El Niño heat as lone reason behind periodic outages

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Senator Francis Escudero rejected the claim of the Department of Energy (DOE) that the recurring power outages in some provinces were due to the prevailing heat index and El Niño.

DOE Usec. Rowena Guevarra said these factors triggered the ‘unplanned’ shutdown of power plants, which caused blackouts or brownouts.

Escudero noted that the intense heat should affect only hydro sources of energy and not coal, wind and especially solar, which generates electricity from the sun.

The senator noted that from 2020 until 2023, there were more than 11,900 unplanned outages. This would mean that power plants did not notify the DOE, the systems operator and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) of the maintenance shutdown.

He said this was far from the almost 700 planned scheduled maintenance shutdowns in the same period.

Escudero also pointed out that the heat was not yet intense in 2020 compared to this year when there were 2,801 unplanned outages against the 93 planned outages.

The senator also related that since 2020, there was only 10 percent planned shutdown while 90 percent unplanned shutdown or maintenance of power plants.

“Even before we experienced this intense heat, there were already several power outages,” Escudero said.

According to the senator, the DOE and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) must enforce stricter oversight on power generation companies (gencos) to ensure compliance with their scheduled outages.

Escudero said the gencos should be compelled to provide transparent explanations and justifications for any unplanned outages.

He insisted that accountability measures should be in place to address any unreasonable or unjustified downtime resulting from negligence, incompetence or internal faults within these companies.

Escudero also stressed that no amount of ancillary or stand-by power can guarantee sufficient supply nor be able to stabilize the grid if these forced outages continue to remain unchecked. 

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