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Serious power shortage seen in next few years

The ever-growing demand for electricity, but without the approval of contracts that allow the construction of new electricity generators, may see “serious power supply shortage in the next few years,” according to Manila Electric Co. chair Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Based on Meralco’s latest performance report, the distribution giant sold 10,381 gigawatt-hours in the first quarter of 2019, up 2.3 percent year-on-year.

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In terms of customer count, Meralco saw a 4.5-percent increase or an addition of about 285,000 connections that brought the total to 6.68 million.

Within Meralco’s franchise areas, peak demand during the first quarter this year was pegged at 6,950 MW, higher by 1 percent year-on-year.

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“The continuing Yellow and Red Alerts [in the Luzon grid] being experienced today may eventually lead to a serious power supply shortage in the next few years, unless immediate action is done to resolve the root cause of the problem, by adding more generating capacity and taking decisive action on the much-delayed construction of new power plants,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

Last April 22, at the height of red alert warnings, Meralco’s peak demand reached 7,493 MW, surpassing the 2018 full-year peak demand of 7,399 MW.

This year, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines issued a red alert—when demand was likely to exceed available generating capacity—as early as April 10 due to forced and unplanned outages of several coal-fired plants and capacity de-rating.

Meanwhile, yellow alerts —when spare capacity was very thin—has been raised as early as March 5.

The Meralco group itself has been pushing for increased supply, noting that power generation “will be our game changer.”

Rogelio L. Singson, president of subsidiary Meralco Power Gen Corp., said the group expected to re-engage this coming September in the baseload power generation business with the 455-MW San Buenaventura power plant in Mauban, Quezon.

Singson said the P56.2-billion coal-fired facility would help better assure Meralco customers of “adequate, reliable and affordable” electricity supply.

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“We expect positive [financial] contribution from San Buenaventura by 2020,” Singson said.

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