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October 7, 2014

INQUIRER: Party-list lawmaker doubts need for Aquino emergency powers

MANILA, Philippines — The LPG Marketers’ Association (LPG-MA) party-list lawmaker on Monday questioned the need for President Benigno Aquino III to be granted emergency powers to address the looming power crisis next year.

 

In a statement, LPG-MA Representative and Deputy Minority Leader Arnel Ty said the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), currently implemented to outsource additional power, is more than enough to address the expected 600 to 800 megawatts (MW) of power shortage.

 

Under the ILP, big industrial and commercial customers who have the ability to produce their own electricity through generating sets should cut off or reduce their supplied electricity, particularly during peak periods of the day, and instead use their own generator sets.

 

This is to give way for the other customers who may need the power than the commercial users. The businesses are also required to contribute their excess energy reserves.

 

“Even without emergency powers, government is in a position to harness and deploy these privately held standby generators via the ILP, while providing fair compensation to their owners,” Ty said.

 

He said the standby generators registered with the Energy Regulatory Commission can produce 1,800 to 2,000 MW of electricity “more than sufficient to cover the expected 600-MW supply deficit.”

 

The solon added that Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) under the ILP had already secured 300 MW of additional power for February to June of 2015, “reducing by 50 percent the originally anticipated 600-MW deficiency.”

 

Ty also said that leasing the modular generator sets as part of the plan to contract additional capacity could lead to add-on electricity charge double the surcharge passed on to consumers under the ILP.

 

“We have to ensure the full and stable supply of electricity throughout next summer, at the least possible extra cost to industrial, commercial and residential consumers,” he said.

 

Ty added that the P6 billion from Malampaya funds that will be spent to lease the generator sets is prone to corruption because government will likely tap a foreign supplier to deliver the gensets.

 

He also said since the gensets and fuel supplies are acquired under emergency conditions, “all existing policies and rules meant to ensure the integrity and fairness of the procurement process may be put aside.”

 

“Offhand, the plan is vulnerable to corruption, particularly in the selection of the foreign supplier of some P6-billion worth of gensets,” Ty said.

 

Aquino has asked Congress to grant him the authority to contract additional capacity precisely to address the looming power shortage during the summer, as granted to him under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

 

Epira allows emergency powers to the President “upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity.”

 

“Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve,” Section 71 of the law reads.

 

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla had said the agency is expecting a 600 to 800 MW shortage in 2015, and that the President must contract at least 300 MW of the total shortage.

 

The agency had said the thinning power supply may be due to the looming El Niño phenomenon, the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya power plan, increased or continuing outages of power plants, and the delay in commissioning of committed power projects.

 

Petilla said that as of now, businesses who volunteered to participate in the ILP have only contributed 160 MW, when he was hoping the program would contribute as much as 700 MW of the shortage.

 

He also said the ILP is only voluntary and they could not compel businesses to participate.

 

Instead of immediately granting Aquino’s request, the leadership in the House of Representatives sought an inquiry in aid of legislation on the need to contract additional power.

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