Every household in Luzon may have to pay P1,600 to P1,800 more per month for their electricity once the energy crisis kicks in next year, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) warned on Sunday.
If this projection holds true, the country’s residential electricity rates would be among the highest in the world, TUCP Executive Director Louie Corral said.
Corral lambasted Energy officials for their alleged lack of concrete and enforceable plans and strategies to avert a power crisis.
“We, and that means all of us, should know the merits and specifics of the recommended strategies, where the suggestions are coming from, and what the taxpayers and the consumers will end up paying for,” he said.
The TUCP and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) agree that there must be a comprehensive set of policies to combat the crisis while also working to bring power rates down.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla earlier admitted that a power crisis may be felt by March or May 2015, affecting 10.4 million households if the projected demand of 9,011 megawatts for next year is not met.
As a solution, Petilla is planning to rent expensive diesel-run power barges for two to three years.
The power barges will be run by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) for 20 days and whenever there will be yellow alert status.
“Under this scheme, the generation charges from these plants, excluding transmission and distribution charges, will easily hit P15 to P18 per kwh. This will dramatically drive up household rates,” explained Alan Tanjusay, TUCP spokesman.
Also proposed was the use of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), which is being pushed by some business lobbies so that there is no longer any need to resort to emergency powers for President Benigno Aquino 3rd. ILP allows mall owners to run their generators to provide electricity to their stores.
“These groups are now lobbying to bring up the current cost of 66 centavos per kwh, which the ERC [Energy Regulatory Commission[ allows the ILP participating companies to charge to all Meralco customers for running their own generators rather than getting their power from Meralco. Talks are rife that they also want commercial rates in the neighborhood of P15 to P18 per kwh. We remind all that what we face is not just a supply problem but a cost problem. If we are not competitive in Asean we will lose out. Jobs will be lost and no new jobs will be created,” Tanjusay said.
Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) groups the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to Tanjusay, higher electricity “will have a very painful effect on ordinary workers.”
“It will also have dire political consequences for the Aquino administration and derail the economic takeoff of the country,” he also warned.