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Conservation eyed as power reserve thins

Energy exec says heat index adding to power woes

Surging electricity demand amid the summer heat combined with maintenance work in some power plants make the Luzon grid “live day by day” in avoiding outages, but the Department of Energy (DOE) said electricity supply would likely be stable during the national elections on May 9 and the week after.

“Since the Luzon grid breached 9,000 megawatts (MW) earlier this month, energy authorities have monitored an additional 700 MW in peak demand. It can be said that we live day by day checking what happens in power plants. When afternoon comes we hold our breath on what happens to the grid,” Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada told reporters. “But the end-target of the energy sector is to prevent brownouts during the elections.”

All preparations such as power plant maintenance and repairs were being done now, she said, and it was partly why power supply in Luzon was tight at this point.

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Monsada said the power situation in Luzon was expected to improve around end-April or shortly before the elections as power plants that could not defer maintenance work after elections would have finished repairs before then. The 300-MW power plant of Aboitiz Power Corp. subsidiary Therma South Inc. is also expected to be in full commercial operation as well as new capacities from solar power plants that have started operating commercially.

The summer heat was adding to the power woes, Monsada said, as it caused problems in some power plant equipment while also prompting consumers to use cooling appliances such as airconditioning units that use up a lot of electricity.

“Consumption has a correlation with the heat index, we think,” Monsada said. “It is not the temperature itself but what the perceived level of warmth is because of the relative humidity.”

Monsada said the DOE wanted to talk to big power consumers such as malls and cinemas to manage their airconditioning and keep it steady at a certain temperature that is not too warm to the point of being uncomfortable and not too cold in order to save on the power required for cooling.

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TAGS: Business, Conservation, economy, heat, News, power, reserve
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