SMC power plants seen alleviating supply crunch
MANILA -Power supply is still likely to be tight next year due to the El Niño weather phenomenon, but power firms are optimistic that conglomerate San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) gas-fired power plants will help meet growing demand.
Aboitiz Power Corp. president and chief executive Emmanuel Rubio told reporters last week that the current 17,000-megawatt (MW) demand may increase by up to 700 MW next year.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has not yet released its power outlook for 2024.
However, Rubio noted that San Miguel’s 1,200-MW Ilijan power plant in Batangas province was expected to help amp up supply, especially in the summer season.
“Although the forecast is El Niño and that there’s still going to be tight supply in the summer, I think we will have ample supply. It’s good that Ilijan is now running, unlike in 2022,” Rubio said.
To recall, the Ilijan power plant went offline on June 5 last year due to cessation of supply deliveries from the Malampaya gas field in offshore northwest Palawan province.
The state weather bureau earlier said El Niño, which is characterized by long periods of dry spells, will persist until the first quarter of 2024.
Rubio explained that while water levels were still “below normal” in its hydroelectric power plants, they were optimistic that this would improve until the end of the year.
Distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) echoed Rubio’s sentiments, with Meralco chair and CEO Manuel Pangilinan pointing out that there would be no major plants coming online next year apart from the 437.7-MW gas-fired power plant of San Miguel subsidiary Excellent Energy Resources Inc. (Eeri).
The two units of Eeri’s facility are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year, but capacity won’t be available until early 2025.
Asked whether capacities from the San Miguel facilities could catch up with growing demand, Pangilinan said: “It’s always good to have surplus power. If you don’t have surplus capacity, you will face bouts of tightness, which we don’t want to see. As a distributor, we want to see good margins of supply and demand.”
Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla previously said demand was expected to peak at 25,000 MW by 2028, putting the pressure on developers to put up more power plants, particularly renewables. INQ