SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday said the next Administration must put in order the country’s energy policy to attract more foreign investors, particularly in renewable energy (RE) so as to effectively reduce power rates.
Marcos, a vice presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections, noted that the Philippines is among the countries in Asia with the highest power rates yet current power generation cannot keep up with demand as some areas continue to experience power outages.
One good way to drive down power cost, according to the senator, is to encourage foreign investors to come in by easing constitutional restrictions limiting foreign ownership to 40 percent.
“It is imperative for the new administration to put up a clear-cut and fair policy on energy, particularly with respect to renewable energy development. If we can do that, we would not only have reliable and cheaper electricity but we would be protecting our environment as well,” Marcos said.
He made the statement in reaction to an announcement by Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) of a 42-centavo per kilowatt-hour increase in its charge to consumers this month.
Meralco, moreover, warned of higher electricity rates during the summer months.
Marcos said the country’s current energy policy is in disarray, citing a statement by British Ambassador Asif Ahmad that while there is a cap on foreign investment in reliable energy, full foreign ownership of traditional power generation is allowed.
“We have a lot of areas with the potential for development of renewable energy sources but these require considerable investment. Many foreign firms are interested but not too keen on coming in unless we ease the 60-40 rule,” he added.
By easing constitutional provisions on foreign ownership on renewable energy development, according to the senator, the Philippines could attract more foreign investors, possibly paving the way for cheaper electricity in the country.
When he was governor of Ilocos Norte province, Marcos introduced the Bangui Wind Farm project for commercial power generation.
Aside from serving the energy needs of the province and nearby areas, the first ever wind farm in the country has also become one of Ilocos Norte’s tourist attractions.