• ‘No reason to grant Aquino extra powers’

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd does not need extra powers to address a looming power crisis, Sen. Sergio Osmeña 3rd said on Thursday.

    In an interview after a hearing of the Senate committee on energy on a proposed joint resolution that seeks to grant Aquino additional powers, Osmeña said he does not see enough reasons to justify the enactment of a measure allowing the President to establish additional generating capacity, noting that the government can avert the power shortage by tapping resources currently available.

    Instead of granting Aquino additional powers to negotiate contracts for the acquisition of additional generation capacity, he added, Congress can come up with a resolution allowing the President to buy power from private establishments with back-up generators.

    “We don’t need a joint resolution to allow the President to acquire additional generation capacity. We need a joint resolution to make ILP effective,” Osmeña pointed out, referring to the Interruptible Load Program.

    Under the program, private establishments will temporarily use their respective back-up power generators as their power source for several hours for three months in order to ease power demand.

    Since these establishments will be incurring additional cost to run their generators, Osmeña said, Congress can allow the government to shoulder the extra cost.

    “So we’ll get that joint resolution to tell the President to pay an additional P9 to P14 per kilowatt hour,” he added.

    Although the government will have to subsidize the fuel costs of the private sector under the ILP, it will still be cheaper and safer than what is being pushed by Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.

    The Department of Energy wants Congress to authorize the President to negotiate contracts for the acquisition of additional generation capacity that may include the construction, repair, rehabilitation or maintenance of power plant projects and facilities.

    But Osmeña said with the committed capacity under ILP of about 400 megawatts and the 385 megawatts to be produced by the new power plants in Batangas and in Ilocos Norte, the country will have enough power next year.

    Petilla admitted during a Senate hearing that power rates may increase by as much as P2 per kilowatt hour next year even if Congress agreed to give the President additional powers.

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