Brownouts, ancillary services and transmission charge

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last February 23, 2017.


Rotational and scheduled brownouts for several hours about once a month, then unscheduled short brownouts from time to time, have become a regular experience in the two provinces of Negros island. Despite the installation of many huge solar plants in recent years.

I am currently in Sagay hospital in Negros Occidental to visit my seriously sick father. Last night, there was brownout for about 10 minutes, the hospital’s generator set immediately takes over to supply electricity to their patients and staff.

The Facebook page of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) gives frequent advisory of power interruption that lasts for nine hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) until this month.

Stories and testimonies of frequent brownouts in many cities and municipalities of Negros Oriental in 2016 are also reported in

In June 2016, the Department of Energy (DoE) said that line congestion is building up in Negros Occidental due to many solar power plants operating in the province. The abrupt influx of solar power plants is causing the main line, transmission and interconnection lines to congest (Sun Star Bacolod, June 10, 2016).

This month, Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO) explained that one of the main reasons of higher electricity is the increase in the transmission charge from P1.0538/kWh in January 2017 to P1.1777/kWh in February 2017 or an increase of 0.1239/kWh. The transmission rate hike is due to the increase in the ancillary service charges of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

There are at least two issues here. First is the presence of more brownouts in Negros island despite its having the most number of installed solar power plants per sq. km. of land in the whole country, more than 300 MW.

Solar power is very unstable and intermittent, zero output at night and very low output when it is cloudy, or power fluctuates wildly if clouds come and go in minutes. So there should be more ancillary services or standby power plants, usually natural gas or diesel plants, that should quickly provide power when thick clouds come and when evening comes. Still, this causes power fluctuations that damage machines, engines and appliances running on electricity and the leadership of Negros chamber of commerce and industry have pointed this out to the DoE and NGCP last year.

Second, how is the NGCP regulated and accounted in its transmission charge pricing and assets management?

Power generation is deregulated and hence, the extent of competition among many players is the main regulator of the generation charge. Distribution charge is regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) because distribution utilities (DUs) like Meralco and the roughly 119 electric cooperatives (ECs) nationwide are all monopolies in their respective franchise areas.

So while there are 120+ distribution monopolies composed of private DUs and ECs, the NGCP is a single, national monopoly in power transmission.

There are 12 different charges in our monthly electricity bill. The top six in the table below, and these five charges with lesser rates: (7) universal charge, (8) cross subsidy charge, (9) lifeline rate subsidy, (10) senior citizen subsidy, and (11) feed in tariff allowance (FiT-All). No. (12) are value-added tax (VAT) and other government taxes, these are huge too but not included in the table because they are unrelated to the electricity system.

Of these 12 different charges, subsidies and taxes, the smallest is #10 while the fastest growing is #11, FiT-All: P0.04/kWh in 2015, 0.124/kWh in 2016, and set to rise to P0.23-P0.25/kWh this 2017, the ERC still has to decide on the Transco petition for FiT-All hike (see table).

Notice in the table above the following: (1) In 2013 vs. 2017, all five charges have declined in rates in 2017 except transmission charge which has remained practically the same at P0.91/kWh. And (2) In 2014 vs. 2015, a similar pattern where all five charges have declined in rates in 2015 except transmission charge which has even increased to nearly P1/kWh.

The possible explanations why the transmission charge by NGCP seems to be the odd man out among the top six charges are (1) rising cost of more ancillary services as more intermittent solar-wind power are added into the grid, (2) it passes its own system loss to the transmission charge, (3) it simply behaves like a typical monopoly, revenue-maximizing as consumers and other players have zero option of other service supplier/s.

20170222be0f6Brownouts and expensive electricity, these are ironic events in our modern world. We should have stable and cheap electricity, no brownouts even for one minute except after heavy storms and typhoons that knock down electrical posts and power lines.

Government should step back in some heavy regulations like forcing intermittent solar-wind into the grid which can discourage some developers who can build stable and cheaper power like coal and natgas plants. And giving high price guaranty for 20 years to renewables like wind-solar is wrong and punishing the consumers. Technology changes very fast, the costs of solar and wind equipment are falling fast, so why lock the high price for 20 years? This is wrong.

The PH solar confederation, electric coops and Meralco

From the DOE website, some group photos showing some of the major players in the PH energy sector. Below, one solar group, the Confederation of Solar Developers of the PH, Inc. (CSDP).


From left: DOE Chief-of-Staff Jesus Cristino Posadas, Engr. Arwin Ardon, Ret. Admiral Reuben Lista, Central Tarlac Biopower Inc. President Don Mario Dia, Equis Manager Craig Marsh, NV-VOGT Phils. President Vivek Chaudhri, North Negros BioPower, Inc. President Arthur N. Aguilar, Reynaldo Casas CSDP President, Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. Senior Vice President Juan Antonio Bernad, Carlos Aboitiz of Aboitiz Power, Solar Philippines President Leandro Leviste , SolarPacific Energy Corp. Senior Business Development Officer Dyna Enad, DOE Spokesperson & NASECORE President Pete Ilagan.

There is another solar lobby, the Philippine Solar Power Alliance  (PSPA) headed by Ms. Tetchie Capellan. Meanwhile,…


From the  DOE website,

Cusi asked both agencies to “go down to the cooperatives” to resolve the issues raised by electric cooperatives namely PHILRECA, QUEZELCO and AMRECO, among others.

 Among the issues raised by the electric cooperatives were ensuring the right of way for electric projects, tax reforms, non-privatization of Agus and Pulangui complexes in Mindanao, the interconnection of SPUG areas to the main grid and the putting up of a one-stop shop and fast lane for the processing of permits and licenses for energy projects.

On the DOE-Meralco partnership in providing electricity connection to relocated informal settlers.


When “free electricity connection” was reported in local media, I asked Joe Zaldariaga what it means — only the one-time cost of electricity connection plus meter readers are free, or also the monthly electricity bill of the informal settlers. Joe said that only the former is free. The latter, people still have to  pay their monthly electricity bill. This is low anyway because of  the  “lifeline subsidy” for consumers of only 100 kWh a month or less.

Meanwhile, I am curious why the electric  coops would oppose the privatization of hydro power plants in Mindanao? This is long overdue as EPIRA was enacted in 2001 or 15 years ago. Besides, only private players operating in a competitive environment would have enough incentives to really improve the electricity output of those hydro plants, especially when WESM in Mindanao would start operating.

Old renewables and coal are cool, complementary and not contradictory

* This is my article in SPARK by ADRi last January 26, 2016.


Old renewables and coal are cool, they are complementary and not contradictory

January 29, 2016

Bienvenido Oplas, Jr., Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) Fellow

Darkness and lack of electricity is inhuman. Having expensive and unstable electricity supply when cheaper and stable power sources are available is wrong and lousy. When many streets and roads are dark at night because local governments or private subdivisions are economizing on their monthly electricity bills and power supply is limited, there are two negative social consequences: more vehicular accidents and more crimes. Criminals love darkness where their victims cannot see or recognize them.

And when there is frequent power outages and brownouts, there are two other negative social consequences: more fires when more people use candles more frequently, or more noise and pollution as some people turn on their generator sets that  run on expensive fuel, diesel.

These are crimes against humanity, the poor especially, that the “limit/kill coal” movement does not take into serious consideration.

Among the cheap and stable energy sources that the country should further take advantage of is coal. While many environmental activists view coal as “enemy” of sustainable development, this is a misguided view. In the Philippines, coal power plays a complementary and non-contradictory role to renewables development.   Here’s why.

One, without coal and natural gas, the Philippines will be as dark at night as North Korea and other underdeveloped countries experiencing daily “Earth hours”.

In Luzon grid, coal + natural gas + oil have produced 86.6 percent of total power generation in the first half of 2015. The “old renewables” hydro and geothermal contributed 12.5 percent while the “new renewables” wind, solar and biomass contributed only 1.0 percent, very small.

In the Visayas grid, coal and geothermal provide the bulk of power generation and in Mindanao, it is hydro, oil and coal.

The actual power generation of coal + natural gas of 84.4 percent are much larger than their power capacity of 61.2 percent of total dependable capacity in the Luzon grid. This means that power plants that use these two fuel types are producing more electricity at stable supply and cheaper prices than other power plants that use oil and geothermal, hydro (low supply during dry months) and new renewables (unstable supply and expensive).

Two, in the Meralco generation cost, power plants that run on coal (TLI, MPPC and SCPC) provide cheaper electricity, although power plants that run on natural gas (SPPC-Ilijan, FGPC-Sta. Rita and FGPC-San Lorenzo) provide the bulk of power generation. Exception is QPPLC that also run on coal but the price is comparable to natural gas power plants.

Table 1. Generation Charge (GC) of Meralco’s Power Suppliers, Dec. 2014 vs. Dec. 2015, in P/kWh

02Source: Meralco, “Computation of the Generation Charge”,

Three, compared to many developed and emerging Asian economies, coal power consumption in the Philippines is actually small. And while coal power consumption of the US, Russia, Germany and Poland have declined compared to a decade ago, the amount remains big.

The claim therefore by some sectors and observers that coal power is the enemy of sustainable growth of the Philippines is based on subjective and non-objective point of view. Their proposal to outright banning of coal and use only renewables (old and new), is based on emotionalism and alarmism.

For now at least, coal-powered plants are still the most dependable sources of power generation. Given the country’s need for immediate additional power generation to meet the demands a growing Philippines, the need for coal-fired plants is still there.

With regard to developing renewables, however, the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projects that the country has vast potentials in three “new” renewables: wind, solar and biomass. Currently, the “traditional” renewables dominate the renewable energy market: large hydropower and geothermal energy.

There is a continuing debate in the country as to how much the new renewables should be inputted in the energy mix. As shown in the above table, while the cost of mostly coal and natural gas from different power plants can be as low as P3.87/kWh, the guaranteed and fixed generation price of solar and wind are P9.68 and P8.53/kWh respectively, or nearly 3x. This will not help the country escape from the unhealthy label of having the “second most expensive electricity in Asia next to Japan.”

So while a balanced energy mix of both renewable and non-renewable sources of energy should be pursued, policy makers should keep in mind these two important factors in determining the optimal mix: stability and affordability of power for the consumers and businesses alike.

Coal and renewables complement each other

* This is my article in BusinessWorld yesterday.

In many literatures on energy and environment, electricity and climate policies, the dominant view is that fossil fuels in general, and coal power in particular, are the “enemies” of sustainable development. This should not be the case. The truth is that coal power plays a complementary and not contradictory role to development. Three sets of data will show why.

One, without coal and natural gas, the Philippines will be as dark at night as North Korea and other underdeveloped countries experiencing daily “Earth hours.”

In Luzon grid, coal + natural gas + oil have produced 86.6% of total power generation in the first half of 2015. The “old renewables” hydro and geothermal contributed 12.5% while the “new renewables” wind, solar and biomass contributed only 1.0%, very small.

In the Visayas grid, coal and geothermal provide the bulk of power generation and in Mindanao, it is hydro, oil, and coal.


Note that the actual power generation of coal + natural gas of 84.4% are much larger than their power capacity of 61.2% of total dependable capacity in the Luzon grid. This means that power plants that use these two fuel types are producing more electricity at stable supply and cheaper prices than other power plants that use oil and geothermal (stable supply but expensive), hydro (low supply during dry months) and new renewables (unstable supply and expensive). Hence, more power are used and purchased from coal and natural gas plants.

Two, in the Meralco franchise area covering Metro Manila and nearby provinces, power plants that run on coal (TLI, MPPC, and SCPC) provide cheaper electricity, although power plants that run on natural gas (SPPC-Ilijan, FGPC-Sta. Rita and FGPC-San Lorenzo) provide the bulk of power generation. Exception is QPPLC that also run on coal but the price is comparable to nat gas power plants.

TMO is a peaking plant, meaning it runs only during peak hours of electricity use. Its price is higher because it uses more expensive fuel, diesel, and runs only for one, two or four hours a day, depending on the season or months of the year. Thus, its contribution to total power production is small, only 0.6% in December 2015.

Three, compared to many developed and emerging Asian economies, coal power consumption in the Philippines is actually small. The expansion of coal consumption in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam from 2000 to 2014 was nearly twice the expansion in the Philippines.

During the recent Energy Policy and Development Program Conference where Energy Secretary Monsada presented at the final plenary, this writer commented during the open forum that the DoE’s target of 30% minimum share of renewables can be a trap and reduce the country’s flexibility to tap cheaper, more stable energy sources like coal.

Such flexibility is necessary in order to (1) address energy poverty (low kWh/capita electricity consumption), and (2) bring down Philippine electricity prices and leave that unhealthy label of having the “second most expensive electricity in Asia next to Japan.”

The claim therefore by some sectors and observers that coal power is the enemy of sustainable growth of the Philippines is based on subjective and non-objective point of view. Their proposal to either (1) limit coal to base load power only, or (2) outright banning of coal and use only renewables (old and new), is based on emotionalism and alarmism.

When many streets and houses are dark at night because local governments and households are saving on their monthly electricity bills, there are at least three negative social consequences: more vehicular accidents, more criminal activity, and more fires when more people use candles more frequently.

These are crimes against humanity and the poor especially that the “limit/kill coal” movement does not take into serious consideration.

Adding more renewables to the energy mix is good and healthy for the economy so long as no subsidies are provided like feed in tariff (FIT) and no “must/priority dispatch” policy via the renewable portfolio standards (RPS).

The government must avoid politicizing the pricing and dispatch of electricity. Instead, it must encourage the entry of more power plants using different types of fuel, whether local or foreign. More competition among more players is the best way to protect the public via stable supply and cheaper, affordable electricity prices.

Bienvenido Oplas, Jr. is the head of Minimal Government Thinkers, and a Fellow of both the South East Asia Network for Development (SEANET) and the Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi). 

PH electricity market, monopoly and competition

* This is my article in BusinessWorld Weekender last August 14, 2015.

The Philippine electricity market: MONOPOLY AND COMPETITION


ENERGY is development, and that includes electricity. It is not possible for an economy to grow fast and have sustainable development if its power supply and distribution are unstable and costly. Thus, having sufficient, stable, and affordable electricity is a necessary though not sufficient condition for economic development.

The Philippines remains to have among the most expensive electricity prices in Asia. Here are data with some breakdown also shown, including the cost of power generation, cost of grid/transmission, and value added tax (VAT) or gross sales tax (GST). Of the 14 major cities in North and Southeast Asia plus Australia and New Zealand listed below, Manila has the 3rd most expensive electricity prices — 3rd in overall residential tariff, 3rd in generation cost, 3rd in grid charges, and 3rd in tax rates.

Some reasons why other Asian cities and countries have lower electricity prices than the Philippines are as follows:

One, their government subsidizes electricity while the Philippine government imposes multiple taxes, royalties, and fees on power. The VAT rates are shown above, and royalties alone for Malampaya natural gas are as high as P1.45/kWh, and this is ultimately passed on to the consumers.

Two, Philippines power generation capacity is low, with total primary energy supply (TPES) in 2012 for instance only 0.44 tons of oil equivalent (toe) per person per year. Indonesia has twice, Thailand has four times, Malaysia has six times, and Singapore has 11 times that amount.

3So with these two factors — high electricity prices and low power gen. — average electricity consumption is also low, only 668 kWh per person per year in 2012.


The Philippine power and electricity sector is characterized by a mixture of competition and monopolies. Power generation is generally competitive with many generation companies (gencos) slugging at each other. Power transmission is a national monopoly via the National Gird Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). And electricity distribution is reserved to geographical monopolies, mainly the 120 electric cooperatives (ECs) nationwide, the biggest of which, Manila Electric Company (Meralco), accounts for about 75 percent of total electricity sales in Luzon and about 55 percent nationwide.

The issue of high electricity prices in the country has resurfaced once again but in a different angle. In current practices, the various ECs and distribution utilities (DUs) have bilateral contracts with different gencos, and such bilateral arrangement is sometimes suspected of being “sweetheart deals,” wherein both the gencos and DUs benefit to the disadvantage of the consumers.

To address this concern, the Department of Energy (DoE), on the watch of then secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, issued Circular No. DC2015-06-0008, “Mandating All Distribution Utilities to Undergo Competitive Selection Process (CSP) in Securing Power Supply Agreements (PSA).” The order was dated June 11, 2015, or about two weeks before Mr. Petilla’s resignation.

The general principles behind this circular are to (a) increase transparency in the procurement process, (b) promote and instill competition in the procurement and supply of electric power to end-users, (c) ascertain least-cost outcomes, and (d) protect public interest.

Entities that will be covered are ECs, private investment-owned distribution utilities (PIOUs), multipurpose cooperatives, entities within economic zones, and other authorized entities engaged in the distribution of electricity.

Aside from suspicions of “sweetheart deals,” some DUs and ECs have their own gencos. Cross-ownership of DUs and gencos is allowed in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001. Two examples here.

One is Meralco, whose wholly owned subsidiary, Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen), is targeting a portfolio of 3,000 MW by 2020. MGen is planning or constructing two other big power plants, the 1,200-MW Atimonan, Quezon, coal plant, and the 500-MW San Buenaventura, Quezon, coal plant, both slated for 2018. Another consortium, the Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc., is slated to open its $1.2-billion, 600-MW coal power plant in Subic in 2018.

Two are the three DUs of Aboitiz Power — Visayan Electric Co., Subic Enerzone Lima Enerzone, and Davao Light.


By forcing the ECs and DUs to undergo competitive bidding for their power supply contracts, the DOE hopes to break or minimize the practice, or at least minimize suspicions, of price-rigging.

This is definitely a welcome move for independent power producers (IPPs) which have little or no cross-ownership and control with ECs and DUs. They will have a fairer and level playing field in getting supply contracts. But while the goal is laudable, the circular will be unable to address other problems and contributors to expensive electricity in the country. Among these are the following.

  1. High and multiple taxes, royalties, and fees imposed on natural gas and other energy sources and on electricity generation/transmission/distribution businesses.
  1. Expensive electricity is also being imposed recently by RA 9513 or the Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008, wherein wind, solar and biomass are given guaranteed prices via feed in tariff (FIT) for 20 years.
  1. Monopoly characteristic of ECs and DUs because electricity distribution is considered a “public utility” and, hence, protected by the Constitution and franchise laws. Abuse of power is a possibility that is always second nature to any monopolist. This will require amending the Constitution.

A compromise will have to be made, like having a transition period to allow the maturity of existing power supply contracts.

The long-term measures to address structural problems that lead to expensive electricity is to limit government intervention, to step back. Like amending the tax code to reduce or abolish certain taxes on energy, amending the RE law to abolish the FIT provision, and amending the Constitution to remove economic protectionism.

Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. heads a free-market think tank, Minimal Government Thinkers, Inc., and is a fellow of the South East Asia Network for Development (SEANET).

Brownout fears in Manila in 2014

* Originally posted on April 16, 2014.

A friend, Rose, posted this in her fb wall yesterday,

I am totally pissed after hearing the news that Meralco will be implementing a rotating brownout tomorrow starting at 11am? Are they serious?? At the height of the heat we all suffer each day….they will implement THAT?! It’s probably because all of these people thinking of this solution have not experience what it is to stew in the heat! I think before they implement this they should first themselves experience what ordinary Filipinos are experiencing each day! All this hullabaloo just so that this government and Meralco can justify what they’ve all along wanted to impose on the already burdened Filipinos! A P4 increase and more on our electric bill!

Rose’s frustration is understandable. In many of our neighboring countries in Asia, they can put plenty of street lights even in less-populated cities because they have so much power supply. Here, we are still talking about brown outs, actual or imaginary.


The main problem here is in power generation (not enough new power plants, many ageing existing plants) and not in power distribution (Meralco, other electric cooperatives). During heavy storms, power interruption  can happen, problem with power transmission (NGCP) or distribution, if the storm would topple electrical towers and posts.

2Rose added that  “this should have been addressed by the appropriate branch of government….and I am still not convinced enough that this is not just a scenario created by Meralco…and their friends in government to justify any increases in our electric bill!”
To summarize the situation:

(1) Immediate problem is high electricity prices and/or brown outs, actual or threats.
(2) This is caused by lack of new power plants; the old plants require more frequent maintenance or scheduled shutdowns, or they can easily conk out (unscheduled shutdowns).
(3) And this is caused by (3a) government bureaucratism (DOE, DENR, LGUs, etc) in giving or restricting new power plant permits, and (3b) environmental activism opposing cheap but stable power sources like coal, nuclear.

If one will check the monthly electricity bill, between 50-60% of it is due to generation charge (ie, going to power plants).
For people who remain pissed off with the electricity distribution utilities (DUs) or the electric cooperatives, there are two ways that people can get out of these DUs which, by political nature, are all monopolies (Meralco, Bataan Electric Coop, Cagayan Electric Coop, Cebu Electric Coop,…).

One is to have their own solar system, wind, etc in their homes and/or offices. This is expensive though.

Two is via “open access” which is also in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA). A village or an industrial zone can go direct to an electricity producer (say a small coal or solar or wind plant) for demands of less than 1 MW. This way, they can stop paying (a) transmission charge, (b) distribution charge, (c) supply charge, (d) systems loss charge, (e) universal charge, (f) lifeliine subsidy charge, (g) taxes and fees, plus another charge, I forget. So you see, there are about 9 different items in our monthly electricity bill, but people only see Meralco or the electric coop as the villain.

By going through the open access system, people will pay only (a) generation charge to the small power producer, and (b) wheeling charge, for the use of Meralco or other electric coops’ electrical lines, from the power plant to the end-users (houses in a village, an industrial zone, a mall, etc.).

If one cannot do any of these two choices, another choice is to reduce electricity consumption by using more energy efficient lights and appliances; have more big and open windows with screen, to allow more sunlight and wind.

Electricity angsts, presentation at UP Diliman

* Originally posted on March 08, 2014.

The other day, I was one of three speakers in a forum on the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) at UP Diliman. The two other speakers were Maria Teresa “Maitet” Diokno of the Center for Power Issues and Initiatives (CPII) and Atty. Debora Anastacia Layugan of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

I knew that Maitet, a fellow UPSE alumni, would be talking critically and negatively about the EPIRA as I have read one of her articles on the subject. And it’s good that she spoke ahead of me. She said that the law promised many things but has not delivered. Like bringing down electricity prices but we have more unaffordable electricity rates now.


This table shows that electricity rates are more affordable now, at least in 2013 vs 2012 prices, generation charge. Our monthly electricity bill is composed of about nine items: generation charge, transmission charge, distribution charge, supply charge, metering charge, system loss charge, universal charge, lifeline subsidy, and taxes. Generation charge comprises about 50 percent of the total bill.

I discussed the immediate cause of the power rate hike last December — a combination of planned/scheduled shutdowns and unplanned/unscheduled shutdowns of several power plants running on natural gas and coal, two of the cheap sources of electricity. Some power plants that run on nat gas had to run on diesel, or oil-fired power plants were tapped, to prevent brownouts.

On allegations that competition among generating companies (gencos) is not true because a few firms have controlled more than half of total generation needs of Meralco area, this is belied by the entry of more firms where there used to be Napocor monopoly only before EPIRA of 2001. At the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), wholesale competition among gencos, and competition among big end-users, industrial and electric cooperatives, is happening.


Is the warning of “no rate hike, brown outs in Metro Manila may happen” just a threat, a blackmail? This situationer from the Department of Energy Secretary himself showed that it is not. Thin reserves is expected this coming April-May or just one to two months from now, about 100-200 MW only. Just one power plant with 300 MW capacity conking out will result in rotating brown outs. Meaning, kill some electricity demand (e.g., Makati brown out 6-7am, Pasay brown out 7-8am, Pasig brown out 8-9am, and so on) to balance limited supply with demand.
6Mindanao frequent “earth hours” as in plural, not just one hour electricity outage, can be traced to very thin or zero reserves, as power supply is very limited. Many hydro power plants there are still Napocor-owned and their efficiency is low. For example, a 200 MW hydro plant does not really produce 200 MW but only 150 or 100 MW, maybe even less, due to certain technical and mechanical constraints.



In contrast, hydro plants in Luzon that have been privatized are running at full capacity (ie, if it’s a 200 MW power plant, it can produce 200), or even beyond its rated capacity. An example is Magat hydro, rated capaity 360 MW but can produce 380 if needed and fully dispatched. A Norwegian company partnering with a local company are running Magat. The Norwegians perhaps have the most advanced technology in hydro power as the whole country is powered 100 percent by hydro during summer.

Mindanao electricity consumers are deprived of this advanced foreign expertise in hydro power, resulting in frequent brown outs, which is really pathetic and anti-developmental.

Is “real competition” absent in the country’s power industry despite the passage of EPIRA? Many or all left leaning groups in the country answer Yes. Maitet also said it in her presentation.

Bad news for them. Competition is kicking hard at both the wholesale (through WESM) and retail (through “open access”) markets. From a lone, monopoly power producer to many gencos.
Open access is a beautiful provision in the EPIRA. It technically breaks the monopoly power of all distribution utilities (DUs) like Meralco even without amending the Constitution or Congressional franchising. For instance, if the UP College of Science will put up a small nuke power plant, say 0.8 MW, somewhere in the Diliman campus, it can supply power to many other colleges of UP, or a nearby subdivision. And all of them, power generator and power end-users, will no longer pass through the national grid (NGCP), Meraloco distribution, pay system loss charge, universal charge, etc. They will pay only Meralco’s wheeling charge for the use of the DU’s electrical distribution network.

9About 70+ students attended the forum, mostly from the School of Economics.
Thanks again to the UP ETC applicants for organizing that important forum.

11A modest certificate given to us speakers, plus cake. Thanks again, ETC.

12The full, 17-slides presentation is available at slideshare here.

See also: