DoE consulting with NGCP on power reserves of grid operator

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THE DEPARTMENT of Energy (DoE) has met with officials of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to assess the reserved power available to the privately owned grid operator as part of “ancillary services” it is providing to consumers.

“We asked for an accounting of where the ancillary services are,” DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told reporters. He was referring to where NGCP is sourcing reserved power supply, which he said should not be coming from the same generation plants that also serve the distribution utilities.

Ancillary services broadly cover transmission reserve capacity that is needed to maintain the power quality, reliability, and security of the grid.

Mr. Cusi said an unscheduled outage in a power plant from which a utility draws its supply means the grid operator will also lose its source of reserves if these come from the same “bucket.”

“We need to have our electricity supply to really be reliable, sustainable,” he said.

Mr. Cusi said the discussions were a “breakthrough” but acknowledged that “We need another meeting.”

“There are scheduled meetings and we set a timeline until the end of the month,” he said, adding that the two sides are willing to resolve the issue on ancillary services that would entail cost to NGCP.

“DoE is working to protect the interest of the consumers. We have to be transparent about it. So the consumers ought to know the expectations,” he said.

NGCP has layers of reserved energy that it uses to stabilize the fluctuating power demanded from the electricity grid.

A frequency regulating reserve is the standard operating requirement to maintain a balance between available capacity and system demand. The regulating reserve is ideally equivalent to 4% of the demand for the hour.

On top of the regulating reserve, NGCP also maintains a contingency reserve that it allocates to immediately answer any reduction in supply when the largest power generating unit online fails to deliver.

Aside from these reserves, the operator also maintains a dispatchable reserve that is readily available to replenish lost contingency reserve.

When these reserves fall below ideal levels, NGCP issues a “yellow alert,” which is downgraded to a “red alert” when the supply situation worsens.

NGCP previously said it would continue to pursue its mandate of finding ancillary services, which in the past had been pooled together with supply.