The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) are urging more companies across different industries to join the government’s Interruptible Load Program (ILP), a voluntary and demand-side management program which calls on big-load customers to temporarily de-load from the grid and use their own generating units or reduce their operations if power supply is insufficient.
The ILP is a way of helping ensure the availability of electricity and prevent power interruptions whenever the grid is placed on red alert.
“Big companies, malls, hotels and buildings have their own gen sets that can run or may reduce their operations so we can avoid blackouts. This way, small businesses and residential users can continue with their day-to-day activities without power interruptions,” said Ma. Cecilia Domingo, Meralco vice president and head for enterprise and national government.
She said the effort to recruit more ILP participants and increase the available de-loading capacity of the program are important contingency measures for summer next year, when temperatures rise and demand goes up.
Aside from being compensated for their participation in the ILP, participants also get to help other consumers. In the case of Meralco, the total capacity currently available for de-loading in its franchise area is 563.89 megawatts from 267 participating accounts.
Irma Exconde, DOE director for electric power industry management bureau, said among the challenges considered in the 2023 power outlook are the two-week maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas field from February 4 to 18 and delays in the completion of the liquefied natural gas facilities.
With the country’s power still vulnerable to red alerts due to unstable supply, programs where the private sector pitches in like the ILP will be necessary to ensure that small businesses and residential users do not have to suffer crippling power interruptions when the supply drops to critical levels. And as the grid is highly interconnected, having more big power users that have their own gensets that can be turned on to reduce the load when the grid becomes fragile will always be helpful.
The private sector may be ready and willing to continue pitching in to prop up the government’s shortcomings, but this cannot be the long term solution to a problem that could’ve been solved by proper planning.*