Find real solution to looming power crisis, Aquino urged

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Monday, August 4, 2014

HOUSE lawmakers called Monday on President Benigno Aquino III to find a real solution to the country's impending power crisis.

Cebu Representative Gwendolyn Garcia said that while increasing power capacity is the solution to the situation, Aquino should have also focused on problems that are blocking its realization.

Garcia was referring to Aquino's State of the Nation Address last week, saying Aquino did not dwell much on possible solutions to the power problem.

"[The] bureaucratic red tape resulting in the delay of power plant construction and, consequently, the loss of interest by potential IPP (independent power producers) investors, these are the issues that must be forcefully addressed," said Garcia.

Abakada party-list Representative Jonathan Dela Cruz, for his part, said the Aquino did not present any specific solution to the power problem.

He added that the President did not even mention about amending the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), which has been the clamor of several legislators.

"There was nothing mentioned about the power crisis solution, and it's a pity there is not even an effort to amend the Epira," said Dela Cruz, a member of the independent minority bloc.

At least 11 bills are currently pending at the House committee on energy chaired by Representative Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro, 2nd district) seeking to amend Republic Act 9136, or Epira Act of 2001.

One of these proposals is House Bill (HB) 3847 filed by Dela Cruz seeking to protect and promote the rights and welfare of power consumers.

Aside from the Epira amendment, other bills pending in the committee on energy seeks to address the impending power crisis. These include HB 3743, or the proposed Electric Power Crisis Prevention Act of 2014, filed by Leyte Representative Ben Evardone; and HB 3751 or the proposed Electric Power Crisis Act of 2014 filed by Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano.

Meanwhile, House Senior Deputy Minority Floor Leader Neri Colmenares has expressed doubt on the supposed looming Luzon power crisis being aired by Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and his subsequent proposal to grant the President with emergency powers.

The Bayan Muna party-list representative said that based on the Department of Energy's 2013 figures, the installed capacity for Luzon grid is 12,790 megawatt (MW) and the dependable capacity is 11,469MW.

The militant lawmaker noted that the peak demand for the grid is just at about 8,700, particularly during summer months, and the portion of the Manila Electric Company in that is at 6,121MW.

"So if you deduct dependable capacity from peak demand, there should have been allowance for reserves amounting to 2,700MW. This is more than the 400 MW deficit that Secretary Petilla claims. Based on the DOE figures itself, even in a tight supply condition, there should be more than enough supply," Colmenares said. (Sunnex)

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