THE Energy department is considering as many as five options to address an imminent power shortage next year.
These include purchasing power generating sets for P9 billion or leasing generator sets for P6 billion under a two-year contract.
It is also looking at implementing a voluntary interruptible load program or the ILP (a scheme wherein malls and big companies with large standby generation capacity will not get power supply from power plants and instead run their generators), mandatory ILP or a hybrid of all the four.
Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, chairman of the House energy panel, however, cautioned that having too many options may lead the department nowhere.
“First, you wanted to lease, then lease or purchase. As for the ILP, [Energy] Secretary [Jericho] Petilla has said he is averse to it because it could scare businesses. I am worried because if we keep on changing the options, we might get lost along the way,” Umali said during the technical working group meeting of the joint congressional power commission.
Petilla asked Congress to grant President Benigno Aquino 3rd emergency powers—an authority that would allow the government to intervene in power generation by contracting power generating sets either on lease or on purchase, among other options.
The Energy chief warned that there will be seven to eight-hour rotating brownouts every week by summer if the country fails to secure additional 800 megawatts to 1,200 megawatts of power supply next summer.
“You are the one rushing Congress here. We are not against leasing. We just want to know, how much megawatts should we lease? And how can we be sure that leasing would not lead to shortfall, considering that leasing would only be good for 300 megawatts per year or lower than the projected 800 megawatts,” Umali said.
But for consumer group People Opposed to unWarranted Electricity Rates (Power) convenor Teodoro Casiño, the government should instead set up solar and other indigenous and renewable energy plants and run them as public utilities for the next 20-30 years through the National Power Corp. (NPC).
“Solar power plants can be put up in as short [a time]as six months. NPC can do this even as it prepares to build more stable base load plants like hydroelectric and biomass plants” Casiño, a former Bayan Muna party-list representative, said in a statement.