There will be brownouts by summer next year if the government is not allowed to purchase power generators, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla warned on Thursday.
Petilla gave the warning during the joint Congressional Oversight Committee Meeting on Energy on Thursday.
“We have to be prepared for what’s coming. This can be averted. But we will have to scamper for every available megawatt because we have a slim window. If we don’t contract a power-generating capacity by the end of October, we will lose the window,” he said.
Petilla told lawmakers that the government would need P6 billion to acquire power-generating capacities that would produce 600-megawatts in three years.
“The price is hefty, yes, but what is the cost of having brownouts as far as our image and the losses we’ll incur are concerned? It is a big amount but we cannot afford brownouts. We can always ask ILPs to help, but that is not within our control,” Petilla said.
He was referring to the Interruptible Load Program scheme wherein malls and big companies use generators to help ease the tight supply.
“We don’t know how many actually signed up for it [ILP]. What was written is that a lot have the intention of participating. Do we want to run our energy supply based on intentions? We need signed documents stating explicit participation. We do not want to make it mandatory because it would appear that the government is punishing them. That is not the message we want to send,” the Energy chief said.
At the sidelines of the Aboitiz Power Corp. launching of Pagbilao Unit 3 also on Thursday, Petilla bared the government’s timeline in addressing the looming power shortage next year.
“We have a projected deficiency by 2015 of about 285 megawatts [MW] but we need to put up comfortable, reasonable reserve of about 300 MW, so we are looking at 600 MW as insufficiency [in Luzon]for next year,” he told reporters.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is speeding up the search for power supply capacities to address the looming power shortfall.
“What we actually want is for the government to contract additional capacity.
Basically, we’re not after any other thing other than allow the government to contract additional capacity on a short term basis, that’s it. For that to be legalized, you need for the President to declare [an emergency],” Petilla said.
The government is looking to fill the 300-MW immediate requirement through First Gen Corp’s 100-MW natural gas fired Avion plant; 100 MW power plant from Millennium Holdings Inc.; 36-MW Limay power plant in Bataan; and 71 MW from ILPs.
“We want the contracting of the government to be the last resort. We will push for projects coming in, and we will push for ILP so it will balance out. I have high hopes for ILP,” Petilla said.
“It doesn’t mean only renting. It could also mean buying power from ILPs at a cost they want because we need them,” he added.
“There is a crisis. But there are some people who are saying we can live with that. In my opinion, it’s a deficiency,” Petilla said.