By Filane Mikee Cervantes / PNA
A senator on Thursday called on the Department of Energy (DOE) and other government agencies to ensure that the country has enough power supply during the critical months of the summer season.
Senator Risa Hontiveros made the call amid the warning of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) of “rolling blackouts” in Luzon due to the simultaneous shutdown of five power plants.
The NGCP placed on Thursday the Luzon grid on red alert for the second straight day due to thinning reserves.
“Government must secure adequate power capacity for the increased demand in electricity this summer, and put an end to any possibly artificial power outages,” Hontiveros said.
“We cannot afford to have brownouts during this time when our people rely on electricity to cope with the sweltering summer heat, and when hospitals are packed with people suffering from diseases common during summer,” she added.
She warned that rolling brownouts will have “major implications on the public health sector”, citing that more Filipinos would become vulnerable to health risks associated with rising temperatures during summer, such as heat stroke, dehydration, chickenpox, boils, diarrhea, and cholera.
The power outage would also disrupt the delivery of public health services and other key programs, she noted.
“Considering its grave impact on our public health sector, we must ensure adequate power supply for Filipino homes throughout the next few months and beyond. Mainit na ang panahon, kaya huwag na natin painitin ang ulo ng publiko at ipahamak ang kanilang kalusugan dahil sa paulit ulit na brownout,” she said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate energy committee, urged DOE to immediately investigate the spate of power outages hitting Luzon after the NGCP placed the grid under red alert due to insufficient power reserves.
Gatchalian said the DOE should also look into the possibility of collusion among power producers due to thin electricity reserves in the midst of high demand.
“The red alerts for Luzon issued by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines today is surprising, especially after the Department of Energy repeatedly assured us just last week that there is ample reserve throughout the dry season,” Gatchalian said.
“These kinds of confusing messaging does not help the public at all,” he added.
Malacañang, meanwhile, expressed optimism that the energy department is ready to respond to any power crisis that the country may face.
“I’m sure the Energy department will have responses to whatever crisis we will have,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a briefing. (PNA)
Read: In Crisis Mode: Bracing for the Power Crunch
Six power plants go on scheduled maintenance shutdowns this year and, with demand tight while supply is steady, power firms counsel making energy efficiency a way of life.