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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Luzon Might Suffer 300 MW to 1,000 MW Shortage Next Summer

Luzon might endure as much as 1,000-megawatt power shortage next summer should the government fail to contract additional capacity to boost the country’s power reserves, President Aquino warned yesterday.
The President laid the grim energy scenario as he urged anew Congress to pass a joint resolution giving him extra powers to prevent such shortage.
“If we do not adjust accordingly, Luzon might experience a shortage of a minimum of around 300 megawatts, to a maximum of 1,000 megawatts next summer,” the President said during the launch of the solar rooftop project of SM Supermalls at SM City North Edsa in Quezon City.
“Rest assured that government is doing everything in its power to overcome this challenge. Just recently, the House of Representatives Committees on Energy and Ways and Means approved a joint resolution authorizing the national government to contract additional generating capacity to prevent this shortage. We are hopeful that both the House and the Senate will approve the joint resolution we requested sooner rather than later, in order to give the national government enough time to contract the necessary reserves,” he added.
President Aquino has been seeking the congressional nod to grant him special powers under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to contract additional power capacity to prevent energy shortage in Luzon in the summer of 2015.
But with the delayed passage of the joint resolution, Aquino had earlier admitted that the government’s original plan to contract power generating sets was no longer feasible since their installation would take six months. Some lawmakers eventually tweaked Aquino’s proposal and recommended instead the use of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) for the Luzon grid. 

The President, in his speech during the SM event, acknowledged the government cannot overcome the imminent power deficit in Luzon alone so it is working with other sectors to address this issue.
Citing an example, Aquino said under the ILP, the SM group will deload 57.9 megawatts during critical times when supply falls short of demand. “This might not be enough to address that shortage, but it is a step forward, and will hopefully spur other businesses to follow suit,” he added.
In the long term, Aquino said the administration aims to ensure “a reliable, preferably clean and reasonably-priced, power supply,” citing initiatives to balance the use of traditional and renewable sources of energy. “We are on our way towards achieving that goal,” he said.
From 2014 to 2018, Aquino said an additional 5,098 megawatts are expected to come online nationwide, while government continues to encourage investments into power.
Renewable energy is a welcome addition to the county’s energy mix but Aquino recognized its limitations such as high cost.
“There is a need for government to take into consideration all these factors: for instance, how do we ease the financial burden on our countrymen, while ensuring that we have enough power for homes and industries? How do we do all this while maintaining our low-emission status?” Aquino asked.
“Our goal: to diversify the energy mix, and strike the right balance between renewable and traditional sources of energy,” he added.
To address this, Aquino said the government intends to attract investments into renewable energy by providing incentive such as tax holidays and duty-free importations on materials and equipment.
The President also lauded the SM Group for the launch of the 1.5-megawatt solar power system in SM City North Edsa. The shopping mall became the first SM branch in the country to run using the solar energy. “Given the amount of energy that the mall requires to run, such a percentage will generate savings of over P2 million a month,” he said.
Leandro Leviste, Solar Philippines Commercial Rooftop Projects Inc. president, said the 5,700 solar panels could generate 1.5 megawatts of power which is enough to provide energy to 1,000 households; or light 150,000 10-watt light bulbs; or charge 214,285 cellular phones or power 170,000 30-watt electric fans.
The installation of the solar panels will provide power to 16,000 lighting fixtures and 59 escalators and 20 elevators at the SM North Edsa.
Leviste, son of Sen. Legarda, said the scale of the project makes it competitive with conventional power facilities.
“Solar has gained the reputation of being expensive, not because of the technology, but because previous efforts were too small to benefit from economies of scale. By building the country’s largest projects, we’ve become the first local company to make solar cost-competitive with fossil fuel,” Leviste said. 

Aquino also encouraged the private sector to study their options and act before the cap on renewable energy is met. He recalled that San Carlos Solar Energy plant, inaugurated last May, became the first large-scale commercially-financed and commissioned solar power plant in the Philippines under our administration.
Aquino said the Department of Energy has also taken deliberate steps to promote the use of renewable energy. Under the Solar PV Project for Private Academic Institutions (PAI), Aquino said the energy department links private schools to solar suppliers precisely to install facilities.
“For the first few pilot areas under the project, schools did not have to shell out a single peso for the purchase and installation of the solar panels, which suppliers also maintain over the contract term of 15 years. Over this time, the schools are able to pay off suppliers through installments, just from the savings of electricity generated by the 1 to 2-peso difference between the cost of solar power and normal power rates,” Aquino said.
Aquino recognized that renewable energy can be “a competitive choice for power,” adding that the use of such energy represents a long-term investment.
“It plays to our country’s strengths, provides insulation from fluctuations in the international oil market and thus allows us to be more self-sufficient, generates savings in terms of electricity costs, and also contributes to the preservation of the environment and mitigates the effects of climate change,” he said.
President Aquino, meantime, was pleased to hear that SM plans to install solar panels in SM Dasmariñas and Mall of Asia.
Meanwhile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is asking President Aquino to certify as urgent the approval of the joint resolution granting him the authority to provide for the establishment of additional power generating capacity to effectively address the projected power shortage during the summer months of 2015.
“It would be better if the President certifies the joint resolution as an urgent measure,” he said.
Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali expressed confidence that President Aquino would certify the resolution as urgent since he asked Congress last September to immediately enact a measure to help the government deal with the power crisis.
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