Gov't will use Malaya plant to ensure summer power supply

MANILA, Philippines – As the weather heats up, the government promises it will use a state-owned power plant to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

The statement comes after the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) warned that the whole power industry may be incapacitated if the Supreme Court (SC) refuses to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) on its P4.15-per-kilowatt-hour power rate hike.

Meralco earlier said "there will surely be rotating blackouts throughout Meralco's franchise area," if the TRO continues.

The power distributor has since asked the High Court to lift the TRO.

But Malacañang said on Thursday, February 6, the "government is taking necessary steps to ensure continuity of power supply during the summer season."

"According to (Energy) Secretary (Carlos Jericho) Petilla, the government is prepared to run the Malaya thermal power plant up to 70 days to boost supply during the summer months, when demand is expected to rise especially in Luzon," said Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma.

Prevention

Energy officials have been hit by lawmakers for failing to use the state-owned Malaya thermal power plant in Rizal to help bring down the price of electricity. Had the plant been used, senators said the power shortage last November to December that led to the rate hike could have been prevented.

The scheduled shutdown of the Malampaya gas field and unscheduled shutdowns of other power plants forced power distributor Meralco to buy expensive power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), jacking up prices.

Additionally, Coloma said the government expects power plants to perform without interruption in the coming summer months.

"The Department of Energy has advised power plants to undertake preventive and regular maintenance of their facilities, so that these will operate optimally during the peak-demand months," he said.

The government is currently probing possible collusion among power suppliers that resulted in simultaneous outages, which may have led to higher rate adjustments. Meralco has denied any involvement. – Rappler.com