Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla is willing to withdraw his recommendation granting emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino 3rd to address the looming energy problem next year, but only if energy supplies could be guaranteed.
Petilla said he would recall his recommendation for the President to invoke section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) if power generators could assure him that there will be sufficient power supply to prevent shortfall during summer of 2015.
Section 71 of the Epira is a provision that allows the President to ask Congress to grant him emergency powers to quickly secure additional generating capacity in the event of an energy crisis.
ILP seen as key solution
“If they [power generators and large businesses]commit to the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), and they show that these people have committed, that’s the only time I’ll feel comfortable and withdraw my recommendation,” said Petilla.
The ILP is a voluntary program whereby businesses such as malls and factories that have their own generators can be disconnected from the power grid in times of short supply, and can sell any excess power they generate to distributors.
However, the DOE chief said he is still worried at the moment since most of the power firms are hesitant to participate in the ILP.
Even if the ILP rates are increased, Petilla said some business groups maintained they would not join due to their own power requirements for their facilities.
“ILP has been there for quite some time, ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) approval has been there for some time, but no one volunteered because the parameters are not acceptable to some people. Even if you increase the rates [paid to firms for their excess electricity]some are still not interested due to their needed power,” he said.
He expressed belief that the ILP could prevent the President from asking for emergency powers.
“All I’m saying is that the government is here, trying to help on the 2015 problem by putting capacity under its control for a limited time, with market prices and without competing with the private sector. Now if the private sector feels that there is no need, I just have to be assured that we have a way of moving forward,” he added.
Talks to continue
At the moment, he still feels uncomfortable regarding the capacity to be generated for 2015 since he still has to get assurances from the power generators.
“But until such time as I have a number, it’s hard to feel confident at this point. We’re still trying to get an inventory from the business groups of how much can be committed for ILP,” he said.
Because of this, Petilla said he is scheduled to have a final meeting next week with the private sector, industry players, stakeholders, labor groups and consumers to find ways to address the power problem.
“Sometime next week, we will have a final meeting with all of them on what their recommendation will be, my recommendation is really Section 71. Some are saying limited Section 71 is acceptable, they have their own definition. Some people are also saying, it’s not needed,” he said.
He said the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries has already conducted a meeting with the agency last week to discuss the matter but the DOE will still continue to meet with them.
In the case of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, which has 1.2 million members, Petilla said it has rescheduled their meeting for a second time.
The Makati Business Club has also asked the DOE to let them provide a number within 30 days from August 6.