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Brace for brownouts soon; power supply getting critical again

by Jericho Zafra

AT least 12 yellow alerts are possible within the Luzon electrical grid this year as the country faces insufficient power reserves beginning this summer, the Department of Energy said Wednesday.

When energy reserves are too low to cover the largest active generating unit at the time, a yellow alert is raised. However, a yellow alert does not automatically result in power disruptions.

According to DOE Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara, yellow alerts will be raised in the following months: one alert in March, two in April, seven in May, and two in June.

Consumption is expected to go up in summer as people use power to cool them. If supply is critical, brace for the worst, especially when a power plant shuts down outside schedule.

Based on the forecast, DOE said the Luzon power grid is expected to have 13,125 megawatts peak demand which will happen in week 21 – in the month of May. 

“We have many challenges in the energy sector on the supply side,” said Guevara in a public briefing.

“Because of the pandemic, the completion of projects in power generation, transmission, and other energy facilities that should have been completed in 2022 was delayed,” she said.

These were among the causes why there is a low power supply in the area, according to Guevara.

Likewise, scheduled maintenance from February 4 to 18 will be performed at the Malampaya power plant. 

The shortfall in electricity supply in the upcoming months is also a result of high fuel prices, said Guevara.

Red alert

Guevara said the energy department “(does) not see a red alert in the Luzon grid in 2023.” 

Despite this, there is still the possibility of a red alert when the country suddenly encounters an “unexpected problem with our power plants or transmission facilities.”

When there is a further deterioration in the supply-to-demand balance on the grid, which can result in interruptions to the rotating power supply, a red alert is issued for the concerned electrical grid.

A red alert may result in blackouts, or  longer, continuous power interruptions covering a wide area.


For contingency measures in demand side management, Guevara said establishments should participate in conducting ILP [Interruptible Load Program] or the voluntary disconnection from the grid and operate their generator sets when a transmission system is overloaded.

The official said the department was studying the use of hydrogen and nuclear energy to give additional power reserves capacity in the future.

“As for new and innovative technologies in the future, we continue to study hydrogen and nuclear energy that can add to the country’s capacity in the future,” she said.

Banner Photo Credit: Department of Energy / Philippine Information Agency – IDPD



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