Aside from emergency powers that President Benigno Aquino 3rd is seeking from Congress, there are other solutions available to help the government address a looming energy shortage that is expected to hit the country next year, a senator said on Sunday.
To prove his point, Sen. Sergio Osmeña 3rd of the Senate energy committee is planning to call for a hearing where he will ask energy officials about the real situation on the country’s power supply as well as other solutions that they are looking at to address the anticipated power lack.
“We want to know other possible solutions the government still has that can effectively address the looming crisis instead of giving the government contracting powers,” Osmeña said in a radio interview aired over dzBB.
Contracting power or “the power to contact for energy” allows the government to pay private power producers for them to produce electricity.
Obtaining such power, however, would make the government a competitor of the private sector, a role that violates the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).
Osmeña said another possible solution that the government should consider is the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), which involves tapping the back-up standby power of big companies that own power generators.
Under the ILP, the government will buy excess supply from large commercial power users.
Osmeña said if the government could find at least 300 to 600 megawatt excess by next year, there might be no need for Congress to grant the President special powers.
“I understand there’s as much as 3,000MW worth of excess private generators in Luzon and we can tap this for the ILP,” he added.
But if in case there is really a need for emergency powers for Aquino, Osmeña said the committee would review the request and determine how long the President needs the extra powers.
The senator added that he himself has been warning Aquino and officials of the Department of Energy of a possible electricity supply shortage for four years but they have not been listening to him.
“The ones who will directly suffer in this crisis are the consumers particularly the ordinary citizens who would be subjected to rotating power outages next year,” he said.
Osmeña, however, insisted that the government should make it difficult for Malacañang to obtain special powers because it might get used to it and ask Congress for extra powers whenever a problem that they find hard to resolve arises.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was hesitant about giving Aquino emergency powers to solve the crisis, noting that the last time Congress did so, power rates went up.