THE Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a proposed joint resolution authorizing President Benigno Aquino 3rd to address a looming electricity shortage in Luzon this summer by granting him “special powers.”
Voting 16-0, the chamber passed Joint Resolution 12, which allows the executive branch to find ways of fast-tracking the issuance of necessary certifications, permits, licenses and other documents needed for new power-related projects, or that which will facilitate connection, interconnection or transmission of such projects to the grid.
Under the proposal, the Department of Energy (DOE) will coordinate with other government agencies such as the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), National Power Corporation (NPC), National Water Resources Board (NWRB), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) to facilitate issuance of or suspend the application of necessary certifications, permits, licenses and other authorization from March 1 to July 31, 2015.
The DOE will also have to coordinate with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) regarding the schedule of power plants’ maintenance shutdowns to ensure that only a few facilities will be allowed to undergo repairs from March to June.
Joint Resolution 12 also seeks the implementation of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) in Luzon. Under the program, big business establishments will use their generator sets for a certain period of time in order to ease power demand from the main grid.
Senator Sergio Osmeña 3rd, head of the Senate Committee on Energy, said adoption of the ILP scheme would cost consumers P7 to P8 per kilowatt hour, which is low compared to the P35 per kilowatt hour that would be shouldered by the consumers if the government leased power generators at a cost of P6 billion for two years.
“In this manner, up to 1,400 megawatts may be deloaded for a few peaking hours on certain days,” Osmeña noted.
Under the Senate resolution, part of the Malampaya Fund will be used to pay for extraordinary expenses incurred by the PSALM by virtue of the increased pumping operations of Kaliraya Pump Storage Power Plant (KPSPP) as well as the expenses by the NPC for disturbance or displacement compensation to affected households and resort owners within Caliraya Lake.
It will also be used to pay customers who are allowed an option to recover their Deloading Compensation from the government as may be provided in the ILP rules as well as the expenses incurred by PSALM to recover production costs, including fixed and variable costs, when Malaya thermal power plant is made to run.
With the passage of the joint resolution, the bicameral conference committee will reconcile contentious provisions of the Senate and House versions before the proposed law is sent to Malacanang for the signature of the President.
The panels of the Senate and House of Representatives are set to meet on Tuesday morning to reconcile the differences in their versions of the resolution. The Senate will be represented by Osmeña, Teofisto Guingona 3rd, Gregorio Honasan, Nancy Binay and Loren Legarda.
In December last year, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading Joint Resolution 21 that aims to grant Aquino emergency powers to allow him to address the expected power supply shortfall this year.
The resolution allows the government to financially compensate private companies that will use their self-generating facilities or power generators for their own power supply during the summer months.
It also authorizes the government to spend P450 million in subsidies for private companies that will participate in the ILP in an effort to raise around 800 megawatts (MW) of additional power supply.
But Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares claimed that there was no urgent need to grant Aquino emergency powers since the Energy department had admitted that the additional energy to be generated would only cover shortages in reserves.
“This is a joint resolution not to cure any shortage of supply. This is a joint resolution to facilitate the establishment of power plants even if they violate our environmental laws and other rules requiring consent, consultation. It’s a question of reserves,” he said.