GOVT  URGED  TO  CONFRONT  ENERGY  CHALLENGE  NOW

MANILA, DECEMBER 13, 2009
(STAR) The country must confront the challenge of energy security and prices now or suffer for its negligence in the near future, according to a former Energy secretary and former National Power Corp. president.

Dr. Francisco L. Viray, also a former University of the Philippines professor, made the clarion call during the 159th general assembly meeting of the Foundation for Upgrading the Standard of Education (FUSE).

He said “an integrated set of appropriate policies, technology deployment and mobilizing investments must move all interventions in the same direction towards a goal of affordability, energy security, acceptability and sustainability.”

“Meeting the country’s energy needs in the longer term will require sound planning and prompt-yet-balanced decision-making,” Viray said.

He said in the FUSE meeting that the energy industry is still characterized by boom-and-bust cycle, which the government can avoid by adopting “policies that can accelerate capital investment and one that demonstrates predictability in legal and regulatory frameworks.”

Viray said that one dilemma that the government must resolve is the question of clean versus cheap energy.

“Are consumers willing to pay a higher price for cleaner energy?” he said. “Shall we bite the bullet on price because of threats to security and global warming?”

The former energy secretary said cheap energy can alleviate poverty and high energy prices actually cause pollution because over two billion poor have no access to commercial energy and have to use traditional biomass.

“What every Filipino must realize is that energy, being part of an economic backbone doesn’t come for free because the investments involved are immense in putting up the infrastructure and in bringing the commodity to the end-user,” he said.

Viray noted that while climate change experts have been advocating a shift from coal, oil and other fossil fuel to clean energy sources like biofuels “the reality is that oil, coal and natural gas remain the most abundant energy resources at present.”

He added that “research and development to mitigate the environmental havoc of fossil fuels continue, but are yet to be satisfactory and are expected to entail additional costs that will have to be borne ultimately by consumers.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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