DOE orders power generation firms to ensure supply amid COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Robie de Guzman   •   March 4, 2021   •   314

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday directed all generation companies and other power stakeholders in the country to ensure reliable and stable electric supply amid the government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

In an advisory dated March 2, 2021, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi ordered power generation companies, as well as government-owned and -controlled corporations and private sector-operated generation facilities to undertake the following measures:

  • Ensure availability of generating facilities at the maximum dependable capacity
  • Compliance with the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program for 2021
  • Manage the water reservoir to have optimal production of hydroelectric power plants when they are most needed
  • Secure adequate fuel supplies and maintain reasonable fuel inventories
  • Arrange for back-up personnel in power plants and additional maintenance crew to assist in case of emergencies
  • Augment security forces in major power plant installations, as needed
  • Ensure that emergency response protocols and business continuity plans are updated to include utmost prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine cold storage facilities and healthcare facilities in cases of power outages
  • Provide necessary support for COVID-19 vaccine cold storage facilities and healthcare facilities installing their own back-up power supply, as needed
  • Coordinate with concerned local government units regarding the locations/stations of cold storage facilities for COVID-19 vaccines

The DOE said the recently released advisory complements the earlier directive to the Distribution Utilities issued on February 16.

“The DOE is working non-stop to establish an uninterrupted supply of electricity services at the onset of the vaccine rollout by the end of Q1 of 2021. We have been meeting with the members of the energy family to fortify our strategies,” Cusi said.

DOH’s Duque gets vaccinated vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III received his first dose of a vaccine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Friday.

Duque was inoculated around 10 a.m. with CoronaVac dose made by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech. Health Undersecretary Geraldo Bayugo administered the vaccine.

Duque, 64, is a senior citizen that belongs to A2 category of the government’s COVID-19 priority list.

“As I receive my dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today, I invite everyone to do the same, and choose to be protected,” Duque was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the DOH.

“Let us all take part in protecting public health, and let us be in unison in spreading one message: that vaccines are safe, and vaccines are effective,” he added.

Duque also stressed that the government is doing everything it can to secure sufficient vaccine supply to cover 70 million Filipinos.

The DOH chief’s vaccination follows the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration to use CoronaVac on senior citizens amid a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine supply, which is used to inoculate the elderly.

 

DOE, ERC urged to probe unplanned outages in some Luzon power plants

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to look into the reported unplanned outages of some power plants in Luzon that allegedly triggered a spike in consumers’ electricity bills.

Citing data from the Independent Energy Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP), Gatchalian said that for the March 2021 billing period, there were 1,580 megawatts (MW) non-coincidental unplanned outages or 61.3% of the total outages.

For the April 2021 billing period but only until April 18, there were 1,428 MW non-coincidental unplanned outages or 62.8% of the total outages, he added.

“Dapat gumalaw dito ang ERC dahil noong November 2020 last year, naglabas sila ng isang polisiya na lahat ng planta ay dapat makapag-deliver batay sa tinatawag na reliability index,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“Kapag bumagsak sila doon sa polisiya ng ERC at hindi nila ma-justify kung bakit pumalya yung planta, magmumulta sila,” he added.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, also urged the DOE to address any logistical issues being faced y some power producers to prevent similar occurences in the coming weeks as the government plans to intensify its COVID-19 vaccination between May and June.

“Hindi dapat tayo magkaroon ng brownouts dahil padating pa ang mga bakuna natin by the end of this month, May, or June at maseselan itong mga vaccines. May iba na kailangan ng almost subzero freezing temperature o mga freezer na kaya ang negative 20 degrees. Kaya kung may brownout tayo, saan natin ilalagay ang mga bakuna natin? Malaking dagok ‘yan sa atin at maaantala ‘yung vaccination process natin,” he said.

The DOE should also address problems in the delivery of spare parts needed by power plants to prevent simultaneous outages, Gatchalian said.

“Dapat ring imbestigahan ng DOE ang ilang alegasyon tungkol sa logistics. Dahil nga pandemya ngayon, hindi dumarating yung mga spare parts, kaya nagkaka-problema sa logistics. Dapat magawan agad ito ng aksyon para hindi sabay-sabay na bumagsak ang mga planta,” he said.

“Dapat gawin ng pamahalaan ang lahat ng makakaya para maiwasan ang brownout. Kaya ang solusyon dito at all cost – dapat yung mga planta huwag bumagsak, huwag silang mag outage.” he added.

PH Energy dep’t. vows to protect petroleum resources in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) vowed to take necessary steps to assert the Philippines’ rights over petroleum and other resources in the West Philippine Sea should any foreign state engage in petroleum activities within the area.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi issued the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte said in his public address on Monday that he would send the country’s warships to the West Philippine Sea once the country starts drilling for oil and other resources in the seabed of the region.

“The Department of Energy (DOE) stands firmly behind any decision and action of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte regarding the assertion of the exclusive licensing authority of the Philippines over petroleum and other resources in the seabed and subsoil of the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Cusi said the DOE supports the President’s statements regarding the defense of the resources of the Philippine seabed and subsoil as this s in accordance with the Philippine laws.

“Under our laws, only the Philippine government, through the DOE, may issue licenses to drill in Philippine land territory, including its islands, internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and continental shelf,” he said.

“Should any foreign state engage in petroleum activities inside the Philippine petroleum jurisdiction, the DOE shall take the necessary steps to protect our licensees and preserve our resources,” he added.

“It shall defer to the sole prerogative of the President regarding any security option. It shall also conform to any decision that the Department of Foreign Affairs might take regarding the ongoing informal negotiations on oil and gas cooperation with China.”

Tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea surfaced anew due to the lingering presence of Chinese vessels in waters within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The Department of National Defense has called for the immediate removal of these vessels while the Department of Foreign Affairs filed a series of diplomatic protests over the issue.

“Meanwhile, the DOE continues to develop the uncontested Philippine EEZ and continental shelf through the resumption of petroleum operations by our licensees and the award of new petroleum areas,” the department said.

“The Philippines remains in business, COVID-19 and China, notwithstanding,” it added.

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