• Govt gets unsolicited advice on how to solve power woes

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    Consumer rights advocate Gov’t Watch on Thursday came up with six proposals on how the government could prepare for a possible power crisis next year:

    •Conduct through the Department of Energy a “full and accurate auditing of existing power plants, carefully manage the scheduling of maintenance shutdowns so that overlaps are avoided, conduct inspections to see if these plants are being properly maintained and impose heavy penalties on violators.”

    •Require generators that exceed their outage allowances to source power at contract cost, regardless of source, instead of passing through the higher cost from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

    • Address permitting issues and “other bureaucratic impediments” so that new power plants come online as scheduled.

    •Fast-track rehabilitation of one unit (300 megawatts) of Malaya in time for summer 2015 and facilitate the entry of the 100 MW Avion natural gas plant of First Gen Corp. to early March instead of April 2015.

    •Look into fuel shortage constraint of the Ilijan natural gas plant in Batangas so that it is able to run two units instead of just one.

    •Continue to implement the interruptible load program or ILP, which proved effective during periods of tight supply in the Visayas and Mindanao.

    “In the midst of a looming power shortage in 2015, Gov’t Watch appeals for sobriety. While the threat is real, there are solutions. Many of which do not involve granting [President Benigno Aquino 3rd] emergency powers,” Gov’t Watch said.

    It also appealed to the public and private stakeholders in the power industry “to act now and act fast for the good of the people.”

    In July, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla recommended to President Aquino to declare a state of national emergency by invoking Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act to solve the power situation.

    He cited possible shortfall in power supply next year.

    Gov’t Watch, led by industrialist Raul Concepcion, warned that unless the government, the Department of Energy and the power industry stakeholders act now, the country will face rotating brownouts by summer of 2015.

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