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The power-crisis preemptive program

Dean dela Paz / The Next Page

Within days, those massive and debilitating power outages energy officials warned us against which found the aggressive political offensive to grant Benigno Aquino III emergency powers that would, among other things, allow him to siphon off immeasurable funds to procure inordinate generating capacity, should be upon us.

The powers might indeed be justified. Energy officials have done little in the last four years to increase capacities. Unfortunately, the impending crisis is a “Chicken Little” lie.

It is not about a massive deficiency in generating capacity as the public was led to believe. It is not a result of shortages. It is not due to an inadequacy in the interruptible load program (ILP) that successfully saved Cebu from similar energy challenges.

We have in this instance a state-instigated campaign stirred and stoked in preparation for 2016.

Current officials are not leaving anything to chance that an incoming administration might prosecute and eventually jail them for criminal complicity in the growing number of cases they’ve been racking up.

Think of the funds. To preempt prosecution and protect their increasingly bellowing and bulging buttocks from criminal indictments flooding in once immunities are stripped in 2016, officials have engaged in preemptive activities, aimed at both filling campaign coffers and fattening pigs for a possibly long winter sojourn.

For crooks, there is no such thing as being over-prepared. No ranking official has yet seen the insides of a real prison. One way to prevent such is to foment falsehoods.

Note the lie’s salient points and the opportunities for fund-raising from negotiated contracts.

Officials raised the apocalyptic specter of brownouts running for five consecutive days. However, in hearings conducted from October 19, 2014, through November 18, 2014, these officials admitted that the “looming energy crisis” for 2015 that could result in “massive systemwide rolling blackouts” would, in reality, be simply a slight shearing off in grid code mandated reserves during either one of the Luzon grid’s two peak periods daily.

In other words, should existing generating capacity operate to full capacity during a peak, the requisite reserves mandated would simply fall short of the minimum level. The Grid Code requires a spinning reserve equal to the highest producing unit within a grid and balancing capacity dependent on the actual demand within certain operating hours. Technically, the latter can fit within the former and a spinning reserve can doubly serve as a balancing unit.

Would a reserve shear automatically produce “massive system-wide blackouts”? No.

Would this produce intermittent, rotating outages? No again.

Will we have debilitating eight-to-12-hour brownouts that characterized the Corazon Aquino administration and compelled onerous power agreements? Not by a long shot.

Sworn testimony by industry experts revealed that the outages, should they occur, would only be 31 megawatts (MW). That translates to one-hour brownouts from 10 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon once a week during a four-week period from March to April in 2015.

The one-hour, once-a-week reserve shortfall between March and April will be due to the scheduled maintenance of the Malampaya offshore gas fields curiously timed when hydroelectric sources are at a seasonal low. Last year, the same were scheduled in November when hydroelectric facilities were optimal. That reduced the impact of reserve shearing.

Managing maintenance schedules and consequently the amount of reserves is within the powers of the government’s energy hierarchy. Unless, of course, officials convolute the question to pry open and dip into dormant fund sources. Then, for crooks, as well as the criminally complicit, the power crisis lie, indeed, becomes a political imperative.

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