Private generators won’t ease power crisis – lawmakers

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TAPPING private generators will not solve a projected power shortfall next year, lawmakers said on Monday.

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Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and Rep. Silvestre Bello 3rd of 1-BAP party-list made the statement in light of a proposal of brothers Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City and Rep. Maximo Rodriguez of Abante Mindanao party-list to allow the government to operate private generators producing at least one megawatt (MW).

In return, the owners of these generators will be compensated for the diesel fuel, rentals and salaries of the operators of the generators.

“The problem is generating more capacity for power. There is a need to construct more power plants. The [government]takeover won’t increase the capacity of existing plants,” Evardone, a member of the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said in a text message.

“Based on its track record in handling basic and sensitive public services, it might be foolhardy to let government take over privately-owned energy generators,” Bello, a former Presidential Adviser on New Government Centers during the Arroyo administration and a lawyer, said.

Bello was alluding to the time when Congress granted emergency powers to then-President Fidel Ramos, a move that resulted in at least P7-billion debt for the government since the 42 independent power producers (IPPs) that entered into a contract with the state did not meet their obligations in generating additional power supply.

House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna was even more skeptical of the proposal.

He said it is baffling why Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla is so eager to seek emergency powers for Aquino when the country has more than enough power supply.

Citing records from the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association, Colmenares said the peak demand for the Luzon grid is only 8,700 megawatts (MW) during summer. Of this, 6,121 MW come from the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

“Deducting dependable capacity from peak demand, there should have been allowance for reserves amounting to 2,967 MW. This is more than the 400 MW deficit that Secretary Petilla claims. Based on government figures, there should be more than enough supply even in a tight supply condition,” he said in a statement.

The lawmaker also questioned Petilla’s refusal to factor in the contribution of various sectors such as the Lopez-owned Avion plant, the Visayas grid that can export 80 MW to Luzon during summer, the Association of Retail Electricity Suppliers, which has committed to bring in 300 MW, and Meralco, which can contribute an additional 180 MW.

The South Luzon Tech Coal and Pililla Wind are also expected to be on the grid by early 2015.

Petilla is asking Congress to grant emergency powers to the President that will allow the government to lease or purchase power generating sets for a staggering cost of P6 billion and P9 billion, respectively.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and House Energy panel chairman Reynaldo Umali said funding will be sourced from the Malampaya fund.

Under the law, the Malampaya fund should be spent for energy development projects and other initiatives deemed by the President, making it a discretionary fund of Aquino.

“If the source is Malampaya, then there is no additional burden to consumers. The government must provide subsidy so people will not be burdened,” Umali said.

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4 Comments

  1. Energy or Electricity problems can be well settled by Technical people who works on this profession/field. The problem starts when politicians make the decision. We all know that Lobbying is also a Profession and that is it highly possible that these crooks disguised as Congressmen are acting on behalf of somebody solely for business purposes..

  2. the ILP program will have double effect. those establishments who have gensets can run them to supply their energy needs (during peak loads and high demand) and then supply whatever surplus they can generate to the grid. the effect is that their collective normal load will be deducted from the current demand and add perhaps 25~30% surplus to the grid.

    let say for example, the establishments commit to the IPL program their collective normal loading of say 200 MW. that would be less 200 MW to the demand which is made available to those who need power. add this to the reserve capacity plus any surplus these establishments generate would be enough to help power generators to supply enough electricity to consumers through summer.

  3. I have spent many years using my mind. I am a father, grand-father, and great grand-father. I throw my hat into the ring to have Special Powers bestowed upon me to solve our energy problem. Here is the program:

    1. All political appointees would be terminated by the end of my first week on the job. Professional civil servants will manage this sector.

    2, We have enough generating capacity. At night we lower the output of electricity generators because of lower demand. That capacity for generation is not used. Electricity storage facilities will be built so that electricity can be produced at night and can be used during the next day.

    3. A solar panel program will be established. A 20% rebate on the cost of solar panels would be given to all owners who connect their panels to the national grid. Any electricity produced by these private owners and passed to the grid would be paid for in the exact amount the owners pay for electricity used.

    4. All electric grids would be nationalized. The national grid would connect all major cities and islands. Wireless electricity transmission would be used within the grid to connect to remote grids.

    5. Consumer electricity prices would be placed on a declining fixed price schedule. Prices would be fixed yearly and the reduction would be a minimum of 1% for the next twenty years. The total 20 year reduction would be a minimum of 20%.

    6. The mothballed nuclear power plant would be started if it is engineering feasible.

    7. The entire gas fund established for energy would only be spent on the energy sector as approved by me. It would be used to pay for all costs of the energy improvement program. After five years any excess in the fund would be used to provide additional benefits to consumers. The first benefit would be that the first 10 KWH used in every month would be free to all private users.

    This is a plan and program that will benefit all Filipinos. Compare this to anything that will be proposed.

  4. If that is true, why then there was news recently that the leaders of the House will grant Aquino Emergency Powers within this month of October? Is Aquino being advised again to pursue the stupid power crisis solution that Ramos has done before? Our electricity rates is now one of the highest in the world and if Aquino’s emergency power will be pushed through, our rates will become the highest in the universe forever, amen.