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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Marcos orders DOE to fix outages

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19 Luzon power plants still operating under capacity

President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to closely monitor the country’s power supply following the forced outage of 19 power plants in Luzon.

In a post on his X account on Tuesday evening, the President assured the government’s commitment to securing a stable power supply nationwide.

“In light of the recent Red and Yellow Alerts in the Luzon grid, I have instructed the Department of Energy to closely monitor and coordinate with all stakeholders to address the situation,” the President said.

The President also called on all related departments to work together “to ensure a stable power supply for the next couple of days.”

In the same breath, the President instructed all government offices to set the standard in conserving energy and minimizing power consumption.

President Marcos’ remarks came after the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) placed Luzon and Visayas grids on red and yellow alert.

NGCP said 19 power plants in the Luzon grid are currently down while 12 in the Visayas grid have been affected. The available capacity for the Luzon Grid was reported at 13,607 megawatts compared to a peak demand of 12,874 megawatts.

Three other plants are running on “derated capacities, for a total of 1,969.3MW unavailable to the grid,” the NGCP said.

The Visayas Grid, on the other hand, is at 2,742 megawatts while having a peak demand 2,440 megawatts. NGCP reported that 12 power plants are on “forced outage,” while five other plants are running on “derated capacities.” A total of 676.5 megawatts are unavailable to the grid.

A red alert means the power supply is too low for demand, while yellow alert means the operating margin is too low for contingency.

In light of the red and yellow alerts status, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, co-chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, said Tuesday’s red alert status in the Luzon grid and the yellow alert in the Visayas grid “are unacceptable and alarming.”

He affirmed that they have repeatedly called on the Department of Energy to implement necessary contingency plans that would help tide us over if and when one of the power plants fail to operate at full capacity.

The lawmaker said, “Generation companies and other concerned stakeholders in the energy sector should adopt all relevant measures necessary to address the insufficient supply of energy especially now that we are experiencing the peak of the El Niño weather phenomenon.”

Meanwhile, the nuclear energy cooperation and trade relations between the Philippines and the United States (US) took center stage during a meeting of the Philippine delegation led by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez with Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama’s 6th District at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. on April 16 (Tuesday afternoon US time).

Palmer is a member of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

Romualdez opened the dialogue by emphasizing the significance of the 123 Agreement, a civil nuclear deal entered into by the U.S. and Philippines in November 2023. This agreement allows the transfer of nuclear energy-related materials and components between the two countries.

“The 123 Agreement lays the legal framework for potential nuclear power projects with U.S. providers and paving the way for streamlining the licensing requirements for the private sector with respect to investments on nuclear-related intangible transfers of technology,” Speaker Romualdez said.

Joining Speaker Romualdez in the dialogue were Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, Deputy Speaker David Suarez, Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose Aquino II, House Secretary General Reginald Velasco, Deputy Secretary General David Robert Amorin, and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Mylene Garcia-Albano.

The agreement was signed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Philippine Department of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla during the sidelines of the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in San Francisco, as witnessed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Negotiations on the 123 Agreement were initiated in November 2022 during a visit by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines.

Shifting the discussion to trade, Romualdez underscored the significance of re-authorizing the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which expired on December 31, 2020.

GSP is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program that provides nonreciprocal, duty-free treatment. This enables many of the world’s developing countries to spur diversity and economic growth through trade.

“Before the GSP program lapsed, the Philippines exported more than $2 billion worth of goods tax-free to the U.S. annually through the program,” Romualdez said, pointing out the program’s past benefits.

“The program has been instrumental in creating jobs and investments in export manufacturing, benefiting both economies,” he added.

On the potential resumption of GSP incentives, the Speaker noted that U.S. buyers of Filipino GSP products would benefit from the duty-free status of Philippine exports.

“This will lead to decreased prices in the U.S. for these products and commodities, thereby easing inflation,” he pointed out.

Looking toward future trade arrangements, Romualdez discussed the possibility of a Free Trade Agreement and stressed the importance of innovative sectoral arrangements.

“We need to leverage Philippine resources and U.S. technologies and investments, particularly in critical minerals to support the electric vehicle industry and the broader transition to clean energy, including nuclear energy,” he remarked.

“With your support, we can make more progress in this area of our cooperation,” the Speaker told Palmer.

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