Accountability for Western Visayas Blackout Expands to Power Plant Operators

Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairman and CEO Monalisa Dimalanta. Screengrab
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In the wake of the recent Western Visayas blackout, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairman Monalisa Dimalanta has stated that power plant operators, not just the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), may be held accountable pending the results of an ongoing investigation. Dimalanta made these remarks during a Saturday News Forum in Quezon City, emphasizing that possible sanctions against the NGCP and the power plant operators will be determined after the investigation concludes.

Dimalanta highlighted the importance of examining the six power plants in Western Visayas for potential lapses in maintaining standards. If any of the power plants failed to follow the Grid Code, they may also face penalties. She clarified that it is not solely the NGCP that may be held responsible, but any entity found to have neglected their duties. The investigation is expected to be completed within six to eight weeks.

The NGCP, as the main actor responsible for operating, maintaining, and developing the country’s state-owned power grid, has faced significant backlash in light of the blackout. The ERC aims to gather more information about the regionwide blackout by next week.

The power outages in Panay, Guimaras, and Negros were caused by the trip-offs of the Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC) Units 1 and 2, as well as the Palm Concepcion Power Corp. Unit 1. However, Dimalanta assured the public that the power supply in the Western Visayas region is now back to normal and stable.

In response to the power crisis, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has directed the ERC to expedite the completion of the rate reset review for the NGCP. The significant difference of P7.09 billion between the ERC-determined annual revenue requirement (ARR) of P36.7 billion and the annual maximum annual revenue (MAR) of P43.789 billion collected by NGCP from consumers through the transmission charge from 2016 to 2020 is likely to be refunded to consumers. This refund will result in lower transmission rates on power consumers’ electricity bills. Dimalanta emphasized that the rate reset is crucial to prevent similar power outages in the future.

Dimalanta further explained that the rate reset process has nationwide implications. It enables the ERC and NGCP to determine the necessary investment requirements to enhance the grid’s resilience, responsiveness, and adaptability to the current and future generation mix.

In a related development, the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC) has expressed its interest in investing in the NGCP. MIC President and CEO Rafael Consing Jr., endorsed the proposal of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez for MIC to strategically invest in NGCP. Consing emphasized the critical role of the NGCP as the backbone of the nation’s power system, stating that investing in it holds immense potential to strengthen the energy sector and contribute to a brighter future.

In conclusion, the ongoing investigation into the Western Visayas blackout aims to determine accountability for the power outage. Power plant operators, in addition to the NGCP, may face sanctions if found to have neglected their responsibilities. The rate reset review for the NGCP is also crucial to prevent similar incidents in the future. Furthermore, the interest shown by the Maharlika Investment Corp. in investing in the NGCP highlights the significance of the power grid operator in ensuring the stability and well-being of the Philippines’ energy sector.

Source: The Manila Times

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