DOE admits no supply guarantee under Aquino bill passed by House panel
THE House energy panel on Tuesday approved a resolution granting President Benigno Aquino 3rd emergency powers that will allow him to address an expected electricity shortage next year but the Department of Energy said the intervention allowed under House Joint Resolution 21 does not guarantee that Luzon will be spared from blackouts.
The DOE said even if more companies have signified their intention to participate in the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), this scheme will only be part of the answer to the looming power shortage.
“The ILP does not guarantee zero brownouts, as it will only be implemented during the Red Alert Level of the power supply,” the department explained in a statement.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the DOE continues to woo more companies to join the ILP program.
House Joint Resolution 21, which was approved through an 18-1 vote with one abstention, allows the President to wield extra powers from March to July 2015.
During this time, the state, through the ILP, can intervene in power generation by providing compensation to privately owned entities with self-generating facilities, which will use generators for their electricity consumption instead of getting their power supply from the national grid.
From March to July, provisions of the Clean Air Act and Biofuels Act will also be suspended to speed up installation of power plants and generation of additional power supply and allow government agencies to use emergency or negotiated procurement for the purchase of bulbs and other equipment that can help save electricity.
The maximum projected shortfall next year was pegged at 1,004 megawatts.
Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House energy panel, said the President had to be granted emergency powers because the country’s power reserves are thin at 647 megawatts (MW), which can still go up if a 600 MW-power plant suddenly conks out.
Umali added that while government records would show that at least 3,600 MW is available from the self-generating facilities, only 115 MW can be accessed by the public.
“Without the emergency powers, the government would not have much access to the ILPs’ self-generating facilities. The ILP [contribution]is hard to come by. We need this emergency power to count all the self-generating facilities in,” he pointed out.
“We can’t be at the mercy of the private sector. The ILP is not taking off because of issue of compensation to the ILP participants, which would also incur additional cost of operations with their participation. This resolution provides the source of funding for such in Malampaya fund, or any other fund that the President would deem necessarily so,” Umali said.
Petilla warned that while the country has enough power supply, the reality of having thin reserves should not be taken lightly because 2014 figures have shown that actual power supply loss at peak hours during forced outages is twice as much the projections.
“In a worst-case scenario that we lose 1,300 MW due to forced outages of power plants, we’ll have around 631 MW of reserve. We would still be short of around 700 MW,” he said.
But former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño of the People Opposed to unWarranted Electricity Rates (Power) said granting emergency powers to increase ILP participation is a violation of the law’s provision for invoking the emergency powers under Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.
“Section 71 is for establishing additional generating [power]capacity. Contracting ILPs is not adding generating capacity because the supply is already there,” Casiño noted.
“Besides, why do we need to compensate the ILP participants? They might just make a huge profit out of this incentive,” he said.
30 join ILP
Thirty business establishments have signed up for the ILP.
Under the program, big power users will be asked to run their own generators when supply is tight instead of getting their supply from the grid.
In return, they will be compensated for their fuel and other costs.
As a result, the electricity that would not be taken from the grid would be available to households and other users, sparing them from rotating blackouts.
Companies that committed to participate in the program are mostly mall operators, condominiums, hotel companies and other property developers.