Unified WESM to boost Luzon energy buffer
MANILA, Philippines – Electricity supply risks as indicated by “yellow” alerts in the Luzon grid could ease once the unified Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) starts operating this month, an official of the Department of Energy (DOE) said.
Yellow alerts are raised when energy reserves fall below ideal levels, although such alerts do not necessarily lead to power outages.
Energy Undersecretary Rowena Guevara told reporters that the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP), which will link the country’s three main island groups to create one grid, would be online by March 31.
“The commercial operation of WESM Mindanao and the MVIP is expected to improve the reliability of electric power supply not only in the Mindanao grid but also in the Luzon and Visayas grids,” Guevera said.
The P56-billion major project of the electricity superhighway run by National Grid Corp. of the Philippines will enable Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to share energy sources across the network and ensure available supply in the country.
The DOE had projected 15 yellow alerts in the Luzon grid this year. However, Guevara told reporters, “If you have enough capacity in Mindanao, then it can cushion the yellow alerts of Luzon.”
This year, five yellow alerts are expected in the Visayas grid and none in Mindanao.
According to Guevara, Mindanao utilizes only 66 percent of its power capacity, meaning it could export the remaining 34 percent to the Visayas. Excess supply can then be further transmitted to Luzon.
The Mindanao grid is expected to provide 450 megawatts to the Visayas grid through the MVIP, which will be 80-percent done by the end of this month.
Guevara noted that there were still several transmission lines that needed to be finished by June.
WESM was launched in Mindanao on Jan. 26, finally allowing distribution utilities in the island group to trade electricity in the spot electricity market.
Despite volatile price movements, Guevara allayed fears that electricity rates in Mindanao would increase under a unified WESM.
“We monitor the market every time and there are times when [prices] really go down … We expect that it would not be that bad,” she said.
The Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines reported an average rate of P6.307 per kilowatt-hour in the market on Wednesday.
Spot market price in Mindanao stood at P6.669 per kWh, which was higher than the P6.245 per kWh rate recorded in Luzon and the Visayas.
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