House Energy panel: Extra powers for Aquino in order

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The House of Representatives would still grant emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino 3rd to address the power shortage in summer 2015 even if it wants to probe first how much the shortage would be.

Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, chairman of the House Committee on Energy, on Monday said granting emergency powers to the President that would allow the government to contract power-generating sets for as high as 1,200 megawatts should not result in high pass-on charges to consumers.

“Whatever it is that the Joint Resolution [on granting of emergency powers]will contain, we want to assure that we will be going for the option that would offer the cheapest pass-on charges. We won’t give blanket authority just like what happened during the Ramos presidency,” Umali added.

An existing ban on the government inking contracts with power producers—unless the President is given special powers—stemmed from debts that the state-run National Power Corp. (NPC) incurred as a result of granting emergency powers to then-President Fidel Ramos in 1993.


With such emergency powers, the Ramos administration entered into onerous contracts with independent power producers (IPPs) to address massive brownouts that would last up to eight hours a day.

Under this scheme, the long process of procurement is waived to address the immediate need of generating power supply.

A government review of the IPPs, however, has revealed that only six of the 48 IPPs that entered into a contract with the government complied with their obligations in generating power.

The rest of the IPPs were paid by the government in fixed rates, including maintenance and operating expenses.

These IPPs failed to generate the corresponding power supply, resulting in P7 billion worth of debts for the state and skyrocketing power rates.

Based on estimates of the Department of Energy, a 100 megawatt power supply could be worth as much as P1 billion.

According to Umali, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla had warned Congress that there will be seven to eight-hour daily rotating brownouts every week if the country fails to secure additional 800 to 1,200 megawatts of power supply because of the El Niño phenomenon.

“The most important thing is for the government and Congress to ensure that there will be no brownouts next year. The most expensive power [cost]is [having]no power because it will affect our economic growth,” he said.

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