President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Tuesday assured that his request for special powers from Congress to prevent the country’s looming energy shortfall will not be abused.
Giving the assurance in his speech at the opening of the two-day Energy Smart Philippines 2014—a conference on energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean technology—Aquino cited his administration’s need to get authorization from Congress to contract additional generating capacity to ensure that the economy will remain strong during a power crisis.
“I am aware that investors in the energy sector are worried about these measures distorting the market, but let me assure you [that]government intervention is meant only to address the shortage,” the President said.
“The sole goal of this initiative is to make sure our economy does not lose its momentum in the event of an energy shortage,” he added.
Earlier this month, Aquino formally asked Congress to sign a joint resolution allowing the government to establish additional generating capacity to address the 300-megawatt (MW) projected deficit for the summer of 2015 in Luzon, and to generate another 300 MW in power reserves.
He also cited projection of the Department of Energy (DOE) of a “critical electricity situation” next year because of expected effects of the El Niño phenomenon and scheduled maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility.
The President invoked Section 71 of Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, which allows the government to contract additional generating capacity under terms and conditions to be approved by Congress.
The House of Representatives has since decided to conduct a congressional inquiry to determine necessity of such capacity, rather than an outright grant of special powers to Aquino.
The Senate also opted to conduct hearings, which it began on September 25. No joint resolution on the President’s request as had been anticipated by Malacañang was filed before the last day of session on September 26, before Congress adjourned for a three-week break.
In his speech, Aquino also assured private-sector stakeholders that the government remains committed to its national renewable energy program, which he said can produce 9,931 megawatts of renewable energy-based capacity by 2030.
“Our country’s goal for the energy sector has always been clear. We want reliable power, preferably clean and reasonably priced,” the President said.
He then enumerated related projects, including the San Carlos Solar Energy Facility.
“We are looking to incentivize the entry of around 450 more megawatts of solar power, with the Department of Energy endorsing to the Energy Regulatory Commission the expansion of the installation target for solar power under the Feed-in-Tariff System,” Aquino said.
Other programs involve distribution of compact fluorescent lamps and promotion of e-tricycles, which is being spearheaded by the Department of Energy (DOE).
“Right now, the DOE is in the process of procuring 3,000 e-tricycles, which we expect to be completed by next year. This will be the first step toward our goal of replacing 100,000 gas-fueled tricycles with electric ones, which will reduce our carbon footprint further, as well as our dependence on oil,” he said.
Among those exhibited at the event is a sample of the e-jeepney, which already had its test run from SM North Edsa to Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.