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Friday, September 12, 2014

PNoy Seeks Emergency Power to Solve Power Woes

President Aquino yesterday said he will ask Congress to grant him emergency power to address the projected 300-megawatt (MW) power shortage in the summer of 2015.
He announced this at the launching of the 420-MW Pagbilao III Power Plant project in Makati City yesterday. 
“Let me assure you: We are keeping tab on all the factors involved, and I am very much aware that government cannot be complacent in addressing these issues,” Aquino said.
“After all, should there be a shortage, it is our people who will bear the brunt of the burden – and no amount of excuses or explanations will be able to temper the anger of the public,” he said.
Aquino said the Palace will formally ask Congress for a joint resolution, granting him the emergency power.
The joint resolution, he said, will authorize the national government to contract an additional generating capacity to address the 300-megawatt projected deficit, and to have sufficient regulating reserves equivalent to four percent of peak demand, for another 300 megawatts.
Responding to the President’s call, Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Committee on Energy, expressed the Lower Chamber’s readiness to grant the President emergency powers to address the rapidly increasing cost of production of electricity and the looming energy supply deficit.
“It should be clear what it’s for and what convinced him that it’s necessary after all,” Belmonte said.
He urged the President “to specify what kind of emergency powers” he needs to address the projected energy crisis, maintaining that he is “against carte blanche (full discretionary) power.”
Umali said the parameters must be clear and defined.
“Definitely, we will support but the parameters thereof need to be defined as required under Section 71 (the Electric Power Crisis Provision) of the EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act),” he said.

“We have to see the request of the executive department to better understand the coverage of emergency powers,” Umali said.
But Senior Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna said Aquino’s request for emergency powers means “sweetheart deals, corruption, take or pay, and high electricity rates.”
“Apologists of President Aquino should not split hairs on this issue and call a spade a spade. The President asked for emergency powers just like Republic Act 7648 during Ramos’ time and the essence of this power is to ask Congress for authority to enter into negotiated contracts for additional generating capacity,” Colmenares stressed.
He pointed out that the Department of Energy “has not sufficiently laid out the reason for emergency powers because as their own data show there is enough power supply,” Colmenares added.
“We are one with the Filipino people in opposing emergency powers because it would make life harder for everyone due to power rate hikes,” Colmenares said. 

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla explained that the coverage under the mandate of Section 71 is primarily by contracting of additional capacity to be underwritten by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM).
He said the additional 300-MW capacity will cover anticipated supply shortfalls, primarily on the months of March to May next year.  For every 100-MW capacity, the amount of subsidy expected to be shelled out by PSALM will be $20 million. Hence, for a 300-MW capacity, aggregate subsidies will be $60 million and may reach $120 million if the contract stretches to two years.
“It is for government to actually purchase additional capacity, it does not only mean renting. It can also be to buy power from ILP (interruptible load program),” Petilla said.
It was recalled that during the President’s State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) in July, President Aquino said he tasked Petilla to coordinate with the Joint Congressional Power Commission, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the power industry, and the consumers in finding solutions to the looming energy problems.
“Let me assure our partners from the private sector: Government intervention will be focused solely on addressing the projected shortage. We have no plans of intervening to distort the market or complicate the situation even further,” Aquino said.
“After all, we know that it is only through the government and the private sector working together that the Philippine energy sector can realize its full potential – that together, we can find solutions now, and address existing issues once and for all. We need power to continue our resurgence. We need projects like Pagbilao III to sustain the momentum of the Philippines – to power our homes, our industries, and our economy well into a brighter future,” he said.
The third unit of the Pagbilao Power Plant in Quezon province is expected to be completed by November, 2017 and will bring an additional 400 megawatts in capacity in baseload power.
The construction of the project is also expected to create 2,000 jobs.
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