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Are we  ready for summer’s problems?

EDITORIAL

Published

E CARTOON FEB 27, 2020
About the middle of this week,  the cold winds from the northeast – the “amihan” —  will start to weaken, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said. The days will gradually become warmer as the amihan gives way to the warmer winds from the east.

Light rains will start falling over  Northern Luzon   and the Bicol region, with possible flash floods, PAGASA  said. Metro Manila,  the rest of Luzon, and the Visayas, will have isolated rains, but there will be thunderstorms that may cause flooding.

This is all part  of the yearly sequence of seasons in the Philippines. The cool amihan season in December, January, and February, which we associate  with the Christmas holidays,  is giving way to the hot summer of March, April, and May

Summer brings us many problems, and this early,  we  have been warned to expect rolling brownouts as demand rises beyond the ability of  power grids to meet, especially if some power plants choose to undergo their annual maintenance shutdowns at this time of the year.

This early, the Department of Energy has issued an appeal to consumers to save energy, especially in  April, May, and June. Various sectors in the field, including the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, electric cooperatives, and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market have already cautioned that there may be periods this summer  when the supply will reach critical levels resulting in brownouts.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA)  has forecast highly probable red alert conditions in the power system on April 18-21 and then on May 20-22, when shortfalls of 81 megawatts  are expected.  The NEA alerted electric cooperatives  to maximize the use of their “embedded power facilties” to reduce, if not eliminate, rotating brownouts during peak hours. Those that do not have  such embedded power plants, the NEA said, are advised to  work with big electricity consumers for them to reduce their consumption when the demand is high or when an alert is issued.

There  is another problem that arises during the hot summer months – the reduction of water supply to households as the water level at Angat Dam falls below critical levels. This problem hit the eastern sector of Metro Manila last summer, managed by Manila Water, prompting President Duterte to warn  the water concessionaires and the Metropolitan  Water and Sewerage System (MWSS).

We have long lived with these problems that come with the summer season. It is said that the government has so many requirements that the private power sector cannot meet and so we are doomed to suffer  this annual summer shortage. Surely the Duterte administration, which has become  known for  decisive action, can find a way to solve this old problem of inadequate power supply.

As for the annual water shortage, many decisions were made last summer, including the restoration of Wawa Dam and the building of a new Kaliwa Dam, along with tapping of Laguna de Bay and new deep wells.  We may continue to have the old problem of water shortage because It will take time to bring all these projects into full operation, but we should have a better overall water supply situation this summer than last year.

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