Press Release
June 2, 2021

Hontiveros wants probe on rotational blackouts amid logistical challenge with unadministered vaccines

Senator Risa Hontiveros is calling for an investigation into the rotational blackouts experienced by some areas in Luzon after its grid was placed under red alert status, forcing distribution utilities to implement load shedding.

Hontiveros, who is also a member of the Senate's Committee on Energy, says impending brownouts and the onslaught of Tropical Storm Dante present an extra logistical challenge for unadministered vaccines sitting in freezers.

"Hindi lamang ito tungkol sa appliances sa ating mga bahay. Napakarami pang mga bakuna sa freezer at may bagyo pang dumating. Mahalagang malaman ng publiko ang paliwanag dahil kailangang-kailangan ng bansa ng kuryente ngayon," Hontiveros stated.

"Noong nakaraang linggo, sinigurado ni Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi na walang magiging problema sa suplay ng kuryente ngayong summer. Bakit biglang nagkaganito? Kung kailan pa may COVID-19 at may bagyo, saka niya tayo binigo," she said.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) on June 1 has placed the Luzon grid on yellow to red alert status when demand peaked at to 11,593MW vis-à-vis available supply of only 11,408MW only, leaving the system with a very thin reserve.

Reports from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said this was mainly due to a spike in demand owing to higher use of cooling appliances to counter the summer heat.

Hontiveros said that the increased demand for power due to the summer heat is the "weakest explanation" to offer as the country regularly confronts this challenge every year. She added that this should have been anticipated and a reliable replacement power should have been installed already.

"Kung ang mga langgam ay regular na pinaghahandaan ang tag-ulan, dapat ganoon din ang paghahanda ng DOE at NGCP sa tag-init. Pero nakakadismaya na instead of addressing this problem head on, the DOE Secretary is seen presiding over a political party meeting, the agenda of which is to convince the President to run as Vice President. Problema nga ito kung ibang continuity of power ang inaasikaso ng energy chief," Hontiveros stated.

The senator wants to seek clarification on why, despite a robust energy supply outlook under the DOE's Philippine Energy Plan 2018-2040, the country is still saddled with diminishing supply in a specific period of the year.

Under the said plan, the DOE has already projected the peak demand for Luzon to be reached 12,916 MW for 2021; 2,568 MW for the Visayas; 2,442 MW for Mindanao, or a total of 17,927 MW for the entire national grid. On the supply side, installed capacity has already reached 23,815 MW since 2018 with more additional capacities committed in the pipeline.

"So, if we look at the numbers, rotational blackouts are least of the scenarios. Unless someone is withholding supply during critical moments, or there is a failure in securing the needed reserve which is the duty of the grid operator, the NGCP. Ito ang mga kailangan nating malaman. Alam naman nilang nasa ilalim tayo ng pandemya. Dapat napaghandaan ito," Hontiveros said.

Aside from this investigation, Hontiveros is set to file a resolution seeking to reduce the price of electricity which is one of the primary objectives of the 20-year old EPIRA or the Electric Power Reform Act of 2001.

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