Sensible ideas towards solving our chronic electricity woes

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WE would like to make one thing very clear at this point: Any discussion of policy platforms or strategy on the part of presidential candidates, either actual or presumed, should not be construed as an endorsement.

There will be a time for endorsements, but what we are looking for now instead are issues and ideas that are worthy of deeper assessment, with an eye towards encouraging a more substantial and productive public debate.

In his spirited “true” state of the nation address on Monday, Vice President Jejomar Binay provided a few of those. Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. provided considerably more of them – even though he took pains to clarify that he has not decided to run for president, and was therefore speaking in the abstract – in his speech to the attendees of the Asia CEO Forum in Makati last week. One of those topics, and one which has an almost universal impact on all Filipinos, is definitely worth a closer look.

Senator Marcos pointed out that, “The Philippines has the dubious distinction of having the most expensive electricity among all the Asean nations, [and]the second-highest in all of Asia, next to Japan.” The Philippines is saddled with a heavy reliance on imported fuels, and the sector is largely made up of outdated, inefficient generation systems.


Senator Marcos reserved most of his scorn, however, for the unnecessary costs borne by Philippine electric customers, and “the unjustifiable perception shared by government and the power sector that all risks and losses can be passed on to the end consumer.” These costs, which he described as being unfair because they are not directly connected to the production and delivery of electricity to customers, include corporate taxes, capital expenditures for things such as prepaid electricity programs, costs for electricity used to power electric companies’ own offices and facilities, and “system losses” due to pilferage and the power firms’ inefficiency.

Although details were a bit thin – which in turn is perhaps the unavoidable consequence of ideas being shared in a multifaceted speech with a time limit – Senator Marcos offered a few promising solutions: Revamping regulatory rules and structures to present a consistent, law-based investment environment; making regulation more inclusive; and throwing the full support of the government behind efforts to develop alternate sources of power, which not only improves environmental sustainability but builds power security by diversifying the energy mix, and provides a wealth of opportunities for new investment.

High electric costs and unstable supply cuts across every facet of the Philippine economy. High costs keep families from putting more of their hard-earned income to good use, and reduce the amount businesses can invest to expand or diversify their operations. Unstable or insufficient supply also discourages investment, particularly in the electronics sector, where stable, economical power is critical to key industrial processes.

Every would-be or actual aspirant to the office of president must have an understanding of this country’s power supply issues, and be able to explain at least a basic strategy with which he or she would address them. If a candidate cannot effectively discuss this issue that affects the lives and livelihood of every Filipino, then we believe we must consider the very real possibility that he or she is simply not qualified for the office being sought.

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7 Comments

  1. I Remember... on

    Nationalisation of Electricity, no other choice!
    Go hire the best International Consultants, get it done!

    It works in Canada, Europe -France, Italy, Spain, etc.- China, and majority of countries.

    The big rich family should work harder to earn money… creating real value and real jobs for the Filipinos!

    • Charlie Balakubak on

      Solar and wind power are the most promising considering the source that we have on solar almost all year round as well as wind. The province of Ilocos Norte has proven that wind power is viable and they are producing their own power sufficiently and I believe this can be expanded to other areas in the Philippines as well. Solar power on the other hand is available any time of the year and its usage has been proven in Europe and some parts of the United States where homes have their own solar panels. These potential energy sources are not dependent on costly imported oil as well as fluctuations in oil prices.

  2. John Nieurzyla on

    Thorium or pebble styled reactors could be built, they could be assembled on floating islands anchored to the smaller islands like the Spratley’s, These have little to no waste, and do not produce any of the dangerous nuclear waste.
    They would need to be government owned, overseen by an agency checking on distribution, and doing away with wasteful and corrupt companies.
    Installations would be away from centres of the population and the power distributed by underground / water proof cables.

  3. The electricity sector should be turned into a cooperative with the consumer sharing in all profits and no other owners.

  4. Geothermal energy is your answer. We have vast steam and expertise. Whoever among them presidentiable could put this in their policy will get my vote.

    • we are utilizing geothermal. if i remember correctly, we are the second or the number one in harnessing geothermal as energy source for power. the problem is the old plants that we have and the sweetheart deals given to power generators like as makoy jr said, income tax, expenses , etc. charged to us consumers thus making our bill high.

    • With the help from Iceland, the Phils was able to explore and generate quite a fair bit of geothermal energy. Some of them are still running like the Tiwi Plant in Albay, one in Leyte, and another one in Mindanao but due to mis management and poor maintenance (they need very little) most of these plants are now generating a fraction of their capacity. One can not stop thinking that there are forces that are out to sabotage these plants so the private companies can take over them,like the dams in Luzon and Mindanao. Unlike in Iceland where they are almost 100% dependent on geothermal energy not only for their electricity but also for heating, they also export some of it to neighboring countries. Basta Pinoy yong maayos sisirain para magka pera.