Competition in renewable energy to lower power costs – senator

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The time has come to foster greater competition in the renewable energy (RE) industry to lower electricity costs for consumers, a senator said on Monday.

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“Swift technological developments have brought us to the point where renewable energy sources can match the production and cost efficiency of conventional power sources such as coal, hydro, and natural gas,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said.

“The next step should be to inject true competition into the game. More competition, with a wide array of foreign and domestic RE players battling one another to produce clean energy at lower costs, will allow us to slash power rates throughout the country,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy.

The lawmaker pointed out a downtrend in solar energy prices as a result of competitive bidding regimes instituted by other countries in the RE sector.

He cited Mexico where solar power rates are now at P1.33 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), while Chile is charging P1.44 per kWh and the United Arab Emirates at P1.48. El Salvador has pegged its rate at P2.46 per kWh and Zambia at P2.99 per kWh.

Gatchalian noted the Manila Electric Company has a contract price of P4.69 per kWh with Power Source First Bulacan Solar Inc. under a private supply agreement. This indicates that local companies using advanced RE technology can produce clean electricity at rates significantly lower than before, he said.

“The interest of the public, particularly the power consumers, should remain the government’s primordial concern. The government should grab this opportunity to level the playing field and encourage new RE players, both local and foreign, to enter the game. Efforts should be made to make power cheaper, rather than on making it more expensive through subsidies given to private investors,” Gatchalian said.

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