• President to get extra powers before Christmas

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    SPEAKER Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is confident that a joint resolution granting emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino 3rd will be passed before the House of Representatives takes a break for the holiday season.

    Belmonte said he foresees that Congress will approve the House energy committee joint Resolution No. 21 before December 20, when Congress adjourns for the Christmas break.

    The resolution, which will be tackled tomorrow, seeks to authorize Aquino to take measures to effectively address the projected electricity shortage in the Luzon grid during summer months next year.

    Lawmakers have questioned the inconsistent figures given by the Department of Energy (DOE) on power shortfall.

    The House energy panel set a working figure of 1,040 megawatts (MW) as a projected shortfall in the resolution it filed on Friday, after the DOE and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) failed to agree on a common estimate.

    The figure is higher than the NGCP’s 700-MW shortage estimate that could lead to a one-hour blackout per week but lower than the DOE’s 1,800 MW shortfall projection.

    Of the 1,040 MW, 600 MW is needed to meet the required reserve while 404 MW is needed to meet the required contingency reserve. “Corollary, a total of four weeks of yellow alert is projected for the critical period,” the joint resolution read.

    Rep. Rodolfo Albano of Isabela defended DOE Secretary Jericho Petilla who has been criticized for “being an alarmist” when he presented to lawmakers and stakeholders conflicting estimates on the expected power shortage.

    “We should cut Secretary Petilla some slack because he was trying to prepare for a worst case scenario in the event that the power reserves we have may not be enough to cover the projected power supply shortfall,” he said.

    House energy committee chairman Rep. Reynaldo V. Umali of Oriental Mindoro vowed to approve the joint resolution this week. The resolution provides that “additional generating capacity shall be sourced from the interruptible load program (ILP), fast-tracking of committed projects and plants for interconnection and rehabilitation.”

    Albano urged heavy power users such as malls, office buildings as well as manufacturing and industrial plants to join the ILP, as he noted the early onset of El Niño in 2015 could worsen the power supply problem.

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