AS summer has officially set in, Malacañang on Sunday urged the public to help prevent an energy crisis by saving on electricity, the demand for which is usually at its peak during the hot season.
The Palace call came as a lawmaker warned that the country needs more sources energy.
“Our voluntary conservation measures will help in ensuring steady supply of electricity,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
The Palace official made the remark amid incessant fears of a possible electricity crisis during the summer season because of the expected high demand and low supply. Some power plants in Luzon will be off the grid for their scheduled maintenance.
In the coming weeks, the government is expected to make the Malaya plant in Rizal province operational to cover for the low output due to these plants’ maintenance shutdown.
“We are collating all necessary facilities and resources that we can use to cope with the expected surge in demand. All can work together to reduce the risks by voluntarily cutting down on usage, especially when it is not needed,” Coloma stressed.
Officials of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) had warned that supply will be tight this summer unless the Malampaya plant is operated. However, power rates are likely to rise because the plant uses diesel, a more expensive fuel.
At least two power generating plants in Luzon are scheduled to go on maintenance shutdown this season.
Coloma said the Department of Energy is on top of the situation and has been making the necessary preparations to ensure steady supply of electricity.
“The DOE is also coordinating with all stakeholders like owners of power plants, distributors, the National Grid Corporation, Meralco, and other distribution utilities because we are all in the same boat. We all must help in addressing this concern and ensure sufficient supply of energy to avoid any unjust burden,” he stressed.
But unless the government can put up new sources of power, the country will continue to face electricity shortages this year and in 2015.
“We not only need new power plants but also reconditioning and proper maintenance of existing power plants,” Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao said.
Ungab, the vice chairman of the House appropriations committee, said there are power plants already being constructed and which may be in operation next year.
“Hence there is a shortage between now and by the time the new power plants are operational,” he said.
“With a projected economic growth of six percent to seven percent, more power sources is a must not only for Mindanao but the entire country as well,” Ungab said.
Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list said with Mindanao’s “massive potential” for renewable energy, it would be cheaper to develop these than “environmentally hazardous” coal power plants.
Rep. Neri Colmenares said the government should have used the P137-billion Malampaya funds to build more power plants to avert a shortage.