DOE STILL HAS 'NO CONCRETE SOLUTION' FOR 2015 BROWNOUTS 

Rolling power outages are feared to stretch up to November next year when the Philippines
hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit unless the Energy Regulatory Commission eases some “regulatory shackles,” the Department of Energy warned yesterday. The DOE referred to the “adamant stance” of ERC on the proposed lifting of the secondary cap for the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), which is tying the hands of DOE to implement proposed solutions to feared brownouts in 2015. The energy department is projecting irreversible brownout conditions next year – anchoring it on high probability of forced outages of power plants and other restrictions in the electricity system. From the typical 4.0 to 7.0 percent forced outages being employed in the country’s energy planning, the DOE has hiked plants’ forced outage rate to 13-percent in its latest power supply outlook.

Additional capacities could be extracted out from ‘embedded power generation facilities’ and their participation into the interruptible load program (ILP) could be engendered, but the WESM secondary cap is seen as a deterring factor to this proposed solution. According to DOE’s forecast, the worst of the rolling power outages will hit the country second week April of 2015 when power supply deficiency is seen at 285 megawatts. This will coincide with the month-long shutdown of the Malampaya gas production facility which is scheduled from March 15 to April 14, 2015. The power reserve deficiency on these periods range from 37 to 180 megawatts, and this could result in rotating power outages of up to 2 hours. Severe brownouts will also be felt first week of April, as well as on the last two weeks of March and the whole month of May, based on the Power Supply Outlook presented by the department to various stakeholders. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy may yet seek emergency power; Only way to avert 2015 power crisis, Petilla says 

ENERGY Secretary Jericho Petilla said President Benigno Aquino III is now seriously considering emergency powers from Congress to address the impending energy crisis in 2015 although Palace officials played coy and would not say if or when the President would do so. “We are very aware of the urgency of the situation. The President has been informed already about the energy situation in the past months even before [the State of the Nation Address],” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. “One thing that we want to emphasize is that we are going to pro-actively handle the situation. That’s why we’re recognizing all the concerns of the power sector, as well as the stakeholders, including the citizens,” he added. Lacierda made the remarks after Petilla reported on Thursday that there were few takers to his Interruptible Load Program, where large power users will be paid if they agree to go off the grid and use their generator sets during peak load hours.

Petilla said he was only able to get a commitment of 27 megawatts (MW) from the private sector although Manila Electric Company reported last May that mall owners have committed a total of 110 megawatts to the program. But Lacierda was non-committal when reminded that Aquino only has until the end of the month to decide whether to implement emergency measures to address that the power crisis that was predicted by experts as early as last year.“It is still among the measures being eyed by the President among other possible suggestions given the circumstances, but as to the final decision of the President, let’s just wait for him to issue a directive,” Lacierda said. The idea to grant emergency powers to the President was suggested by at least nine local and foreign chambers of commerce and even labor groups joined the call because of the effects of a power crisis on job generation. *READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy seeks emergency power to solve power woes 300-MW power shortage in Luzon in summer of 2015 projected  

SEPT 14 --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. PHOTO: CURTAINRAISER – President Aquino leads the ceremonial countdown on the target completion date of the Pagbilao project during the launching at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City yesterday. With him are (from left) Antonio Muraza, president of Aboitiz Power Corp.; Jon Ramon Aboitiz, chairman of Aboitiz Equity Ventures; Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla; Erramon Aboitiz, CEO of Aboitiz Powerr Corp.; Naomi Hirose, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co.; and Mamoru Sekiyama, president of Marubeni Corp. (KJ Rosales)

“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. HOUSE READY TO GRANT 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. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Exhaust all options in seeking Noynoy’s emergency powers  

SEPT 11 --Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano yesterday said Department Energy (DoE) Secretary Jericho Petilla and other energy officials must first exhaust all options under the authority and powers of the executive department and the Epira Law before asking President Aquino to seek emergency powers from Congress to solve the looming power crisis in the country. Albano at the same time, urged members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to remain vigilant and critical in granting emergency powers to Aquino as instigated by Petilla because of possible abuse that could result in the building of excessive power generating capacity by power industry players whose costs will eventually be passed on to consumers similar to the much despised and reviled power purchase agreements in the past.

Albano also supported the position of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. that there should be proper, legal and valid justification in seeking the approval from Congress for emergency powers. “There are a lot of options available to the Energy department to find a solution to what Petilla claimed to be a looming electricity shortage like proper scheduling and coordination of plant maintenance shutdowns of the Malampaya LNG facilities in Palawan with the power plants of various by power producers,” Albano, a member for the minority bloc of the House committee on energy and former executive director of the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said.

Albano stressed that the DoE should also operate government owned “Must Run” power plants like the 650 MW Malaya Thermal Plant in Rizal to meet the expected shortfall in power supply and prevent a repeat of the onerous and controversial power rates caused by the faulty timing of maintenance shutdowns of power generating companies. “Must-run units are power generating facilities that are tapped to provide power when supply is not enough. These facilities like the Malaya Thermal plant can be compensated for their operations. In fact, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, the privately-run power grid operator, has requested the operation of the Malaya facility March this year. The plant can offer the minimum capacity of 150 MW,” Albano said. *READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Extra power LP’s ploy’  

LAWMAKERS and anti-pork activists on Sunday accused President Benigno Aquino III of seeking emergency powers to divert money from the P137 billion Malampaya Fund to the Liberal Party 2016 campaign chest. People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates (POWER) and Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate accused Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and the Palace of conveniently creating an artificial power shortage to justify the emergency powers that would allow the President to negotiate with power industry players for power supply. It is nothing but a bogey to justify the grant of emergency powers to President Aquino,” Zarate said. “This emergency power is even probably designed so that Malacanang can dip its fingers again into the Malampaya fund, the spending of which was already restricted by the November 2013 decision of the Supreme Court,” Zarate added.

“The Malampaya spending for non-energy related projects was made in the run-up to the 2013 midterm elections. And now that the 2016 presidential polls near, emergency power is being pushed,” Zarate said. “Why the rush when they did nothing for the past four years? They’re rushing now because the elections are drawing near,” said former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, also POWER president and newly designated spokesman for the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Casiño said POWER opposes the emergency powers because they would grant the President the authority to negotiate contracts. “We reject the granting of emergency powers because once the President negotiated contracts for bunker fuel and diesel-fired plants, a ‘take-or-pay provision’ will be inserted, which means that even if the consumers did not use up the power that was supplied by the contractors, the consumer would still pay for the unused power. And this would be passed on to consumers by way of higher electricity rates,” Casino said. In 2011, Zarate recalled President Aquino released a total of of P13.26 billion in Malampaya funds, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) getting the largest share at P4.95 billion. The Department of Finance and National Power Corp. were recorded as the biggest spenders at P4.6 billion, Zarate said. *READ MORE...

ALSO Manila Times Opinion: Aquino’s gift to the Philippines 

SEPT 12 --Although I have been ferociously critical of President B.S. Aquino 3rd since before he could even legitimately add that word “President” to his calling cards I had a small epiphany the other night: He may be the greatest president this country has ever had. In his most recent State of the Noynoy, or rather Nation Address a couple of months ago, Aquino went off-script to spend some time musing in worried tones about what would become of his legacy after he’s gone, whether that inevitability arrives in mid-2016, mid-2022, or at some other point in the hazy future (he seems to have not quite decided when that will be yet).
And while he was scored by some observers for making his report on the current status and prospects of the nation too personal, he was right to raise the question. We should all worry about whether or not his successor will properly follow the path he has laid out for this country.

The value of some presidents throughout history, whether in this country or elsewhere, has only really revealed itself after the passage of time. South African reformer Nelson Mandela, for instance, was considered a basically inept, one-note head of government when he finally got his chance, but in his twilight years and since his death, it is generally recognized that he did, in fact, build a system with a certain amount of stability that has allowed South Africa to progress in tangible ways. Jimmy Carter was considered a bad joke for most of his one uncomfortable term in office in the United States, but since then has come to be regarded as one of America’s greatest statesmen; for one thing, his signature on a particular national security memo was—probably—the ‘small tap in just the right place’ that eventually brought down the Soviet Union. In the Philippines, the economic foundation laid by Aquino’s predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been widely acknowledged to have contributed to the country’s current growth potential, even though she was just as widely unpopular while in office.

And B.S. Aquino’s own mother Cory, the first post-Marcos era president—okay, so there are some exceptions to the rule. Her heir, however, is not one of them, and the truly inspiring thing about him is he has managed to show his worth and the path the country should follow so early. B.S. Aquino’s gift to the Philippines is the raising of the level of political discourse and the standards against which candidates for public office, in particular the man or woman who will replace him, will be judged. Gone is the era in which campaigns are built around personalities and vapid motherhood statements like “uplifting the poor,” and “strengthening institutions,” and “not engaging in a level of plunder that the average Viking would consider excessive.” *CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

DOE still has ‘no concrete solution’ for 2015 brownouts

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN)  by Myrna Velasco September 10, 2014 (updated) Share this: Rolling power outages are feared to stretch up to November next year when the Philippines hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit unless the Energy Regulatory Commission eases some “regulatory shackles,” the Department of Energy warned yesterday.

The DOE referred to the “adamant stance” of ERC on the proposed lifting of the secondary cap for the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), which is tying the hands of DOE to implement proposed solutions to feared brownouts in 2015.

The energy department is projecting irreversible brownout conditions next year – anchoring it on high probability of forced outages of power plants and other restrictions in the electricity system.

From the typical 4.0 to 7.0 percent forced outages being employed in the country’s energy planning, the DOE has hiked plants’ forced outage rate to 13-percent in its latest power supply outlook.

Additional capacities could be extracted out from ‘embedded power generation facilities’ and their participation into the interruptible load program (ILP) could be engendered, but the WESM secondary cap is seen as a deterring factor to this proposed solution.

According to DOE’s forecast, the worst of the rolling power outages will hit the country second week April of 2015 when power supply deficiency is seen at 285 megawatts.

This will coincide with the month-long shutdown of the Malampaya gas production facility which is scheduled from March 15 to April 14, 2015.

The power reserve deficiency on these periods range from 37 to 180 megawatts, and this could result in rotating power outages of up to 2 hours.

Severe brownouts will also be felt first week of April, as well as on the last two weeks of March and the whole month of May, based on the Power Supply Outlook presented by the department to various stakeholders.

* The DOE said it is extremely problematic sourcing out the system’s need for contingency reserve – placed at about 647MW for Luzon grid. Contingency reserve is the generating capacity intended to take care of the loss of the largest synchronized generating unit or the power import from a single grid interconnection.

With the Section 71 or ‘emergency powers’ declaration being given cold shoulder treatment, Petilla has to scour for alternative ‘quick fixes’ so he can save Filipino consumers from dreaded blackouts.

Aside from ILP, the DOE is placing its bet on energy conservation as added contingency measure to shave demand especially during peak consumption periods.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Noy may yet seek emergency power By Joyce Pangco Panares | Sep. 06, 2014 at 12:01am

Only way to avert 2015 power crisis, Petilla says


Petilla

ENERGY Secretary Jericho Petilla said President Benigno Aquino III is now seriously considering emergency powers from Congress to address the impending energy crisis in 2015 although Palace officials played coy and would not say if or when the President would do so.

“We are very aware of the urgency of the situation. The President has been informed already about the energy situation in the past months even before [the State of the Nation Address],” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

“One thing that we want to emphasize is that we are going to pro-actively handle the situation. That’s why we’re recognizing all the concerns of the power sector, as well as the stakeholders, including the citizens,” he added.

Lacierda made the remarks after Petilla reported on Thursday that there were few takers to his Interruptible Load Program, where large power users will be paid if they agree to go off the grid and use their generator sets during peak load hours.

Petilla said he was only able to get a commitment of 27 megawatts (MW) from the private sector although Manila Electric Company reported last May that mall owners have committed a total of 110 megawatts to the program.

But Lacierda was non-committal when reminded that Aquino only has until the end of the month to decide whether to implement emergency measures to address that the power crisis that was predicted by experts as early as last year.

“It is still among the measures being eyed by the President among other possible suggestions given the circumstances, but as to the final decision of the President, let’s just wait for him to issue a directive,” Lacierda said.

The idea to grant emergency powers to the President was suggested by at least nine local and foreign chambers of commerce and even labor groups joined the call because of the effects of a power crisis on job generation.

* Labor groups also raised the power situation during their pre-Labor Day dialogue with Aquino in April and the President promised that there “will be good news in a couple of days” but there has been no word since.

Last June 18, Petilla convened a task force under the DOE comprised of several stakeholders, but labor groups did not want join the task force because of the supposed lack of coordination among stakeholders.

In July, Petilla, who had repeatedly dodged suggestions to declare a state of emergency in the power sector, finally admitted that Luzon will likely face a power shortfall of between 400 megawatts and 500 MW by summer next year.

Petilla said at least six power plants, capable of producing 400 MW, will likely be online by summer, but that will not be sufficient because other plants are also expected off-line for maintenance.

He agreed with the call of the private sector that it was time for Aquino to declare a state of emergency in the power sector so that he can seek remedies. Aquino, however, has not acted on the proposal.

But Lacierda noted that Aquino mentioned the matter in his State of the Nation Address and he instructed Petilla to discuss the matter with the Energy Regulatory Commission, the congressional oversight committee and other stakeholders.

Also in July, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the House of Representatives was willing to grant Aquino emergency powers to address the looming power crisis and the Speaker even criticized Petilla for being late in acknowledging the fact.

“[It is] long overdue. Many people [have been] urging him before,” Belmonte said last July in a text message to House reporters.

But Belmonte clarified that Aquino must specify what emergency powers he was seeking. “Exactly what is this emergency power they want? House will surely give it,” he said.

A bill is currently pending at the House of Representatives aiming to grant the President the power to suspend the 12-percent value added tax on electricity whenever necessary.

House Bill No. 3743, filed by Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, would allow the President to enter into negotiated contracts for the immediate construction of new state-owned power plants to serve as standby generators for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The President would also be authorized to enter into negotiated contracts for the repair, rehabilitation, improvement or maintenance of existing government-owned power plants, subject to certain requirements, including publication of the plants to be rehabilitated, and the list of interested contractors and their expertise.

But Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares doubted whether emergency powers were the solution to the problem.

“There is no need for emergency powers if the Energy Regulatory Commission and DOE will get their acts together,” Colmenares said. “The Aquino administration should stop crying wolf and once again try to find an excuse for a power rate hike.”

Colmenares said that if the DoE’s reference on plant capacities were accurate, then it should have been addressed a long time ago through the Power Development Plan.

“Is it really supply that is the problem or there are other factors that prevent some capacities from being dispatched, like the supposed collusion between power industry players last year? Up till now the ERC has yet to submit their investigation on the matter,” he said.

Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap hit the supposed irresponsibility and laziness of the government in handling the country’s power requirements.

“Instead of taking the responsibility of building stated-controlled and operated power plants, it resorted to buying more expensive electricity from private power producers that will result to higher charges,” said Hi-cap.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Ridon also castigated the government, saying it has shown that its concern has never been really about answering a projected power crisis but only the interest of power producers and distributors.

“We can’t allow government to relax environmental laws because of power supply. Our homes cannot have lights while our children suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems. Local governments should be able to exercise their prerogative on any power plant proposal,” Ridon said.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

PNoy seeks emergency power to solve power woes 300-MW power shortage in Luzon in summer of 2015 projected by Madel Sabater - Namit September 12, 2014 (updated) Share this:

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.


CURTAINRAISER – President Aquino leads the ceremonial countdown on the target completion date of the Pagbilao project during the launching at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City yesterday. With him are (from left) Antonio Muraza, president of Aboitiz Power Corp.; Jon Ramon Aboitiz, chairman of Aboitiz Equity Ventures; Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla; Erramon Aboitiz, CEO of Aboitiz Powerr Corp.; Naomi Hirose, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co.; and Mamoru Sekiyama, president of Marubeni Corp. (KJ Rosales)

“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.

HOUSE READY TO GRANT 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.

$120-M SUBSIDY SEEN

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.

LUZON SHORTAGE

The power outage has become a problem in Mindanao because of the ageing hydropower plants in Mindanao. However, power shortage of up to 300 megawatts is also looming in Luzon in the summer of 2015 due to increased power demand.

“These outages are unannounced and sudden, brought about by the effects of ambient temperatures on the operation of thermal plants; low water supply for hydropower plants; and turbine and part issues of other existing power plants. And there are the many other factors that affect our power supply adversely: weather phenomena such as El Niño and the typhoons that visit our country every year; the de-rating of plants due to unforeseen problems; and delays in the construction of power plants; and various legal challenges to the setting up these power plants are also part of the problem mix,” Aquino said.

According to Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., asking for emergency powers from Congress signifies that the Aquino administration is being proactive in addressing the power situation.

He said the use of emergency powers is not the only option being looked at by the government as there is also the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), which allows private firms to use their own generators, and receive compensation, as approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Meanwhile, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Visayas Cluster unanimously passed a resolution urging the grant of emergency powers to President Aquino to deal with a potentially crippling power supply shortage.

In adopting the resolution, the Visayas mayors explained that there would be dire consequences if they wait for the power shortage to worsen before taking this extraordinary step.

“The exercise of emergency powers by the President is not a cure-all. But it is a decisive step in the right direction. It sends signals that we are making the right move to stabilize the power supply, as demand increases because of intensified economic activity,” said Tuburan, Cebu Mayor Democrito Diamante, Visayas Cluster vice president. (With reports from Charissa M. Luci, Ben R. Rosario, Myrna M. Velasco, and Czarina Nicole O. Ong)

FROM THE TRIBUNE

Exhaust all options in seeking Noynoy’s emergency powers
Written by Charlie V. Manalo Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00


AQUINO

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano yesterday said Department Energy (DoE) Secretary Jericho Petilla and other energy officials must first exhaust all options under the authority and powers of the executive department and the Epira Law before asking President Aquino to seek emergency powers from Congress to solve the looming power crisis in the country.

Albano at the same time, urged members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to remain vigilant and critical in granting emergency powers to Aquino as instigated by Petilla because of possible abuse that could result in the building of excessive power generating capacity by power industry players whose costs will eventually be passed on to consumers similar to the much despised and reviled power purchase agreements in the past.

Albano also supported the position of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. that there should be proper, legal and valid justification in seeking the approval from Congress for emergency powers.

“There are a lot of options available to the Energy department to find a solution to what Petilla claimed to be a looming electricity shortage like proper scheduling and coordination of plant maintenance shutdowns of the Malampaya LNG facilities in Palawan with the power plants of various by power producers,” Albano, a member for the minority bloc of the House committee on energy and former executive director of the Joint Congressional Power Commission, said.

Albano stressed that the DoE should also operate government owned “Must Run” power plants like the 650 MW Malaya Thermal Plant in Rizal to meet the expected shortfall in power supply and prevent a repeat of the onerous and controversial power rates caused by the faulty timing of maintenance shutdowns of power generating companies.

“Must-run units are power generating facilities that are tapped to provide power when supply is not enough. These facilities like the Malaya Thermal plant can be compensated for their operations. In fact, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, the privately-run power grid operator, has requested the operation of the Malaya facility March this year. The plant can offer the minimum capacity of 150 MW,” Albano said.

* Albano added that the DoE should also maximize available power generating capacity of private companies like shopping malls and big office buildings. The combined power output of these privately-owned power generating equipment could effectively lower the expected 500 to 600 MW shortfall predicted by the DoE.

“At the end of the day, all it takes for the DoE to meet the power shortfall is a broad strategy and proper planning in addressing the supply problem, not a knee jerk, panic button response anchored on the use of emergency powers by President Aquino,” Albano said.

Albano apparently had a change of heart regarding the grant of emergency powers to the President to solve the power crisis after he had earlier issued conditional support to the recommendation of Petilla for the President to declare a state of emergency in the energy sector.

Albano then batted for “limited emergency powers and well-defined parameters and safeguards against abuses” so that Filipino consumers will not end up shouldering additional costs in their electricity bills.

Albano explained the 500 to 600 MW shortage that Secretary Petilla wanted to solve could be effective addressed by existing authority and powers of the Executive Department, specially the DoE.

Albano also lamented Petilla’s plan to lease refurbished power barges which were formerly owned by government and privatized at “bargain” prices.

Albano pointed out that the Executive department, Petilla and other energy officials who are pushing for a special power to be granted to the President should be able to convince the Filipino people and lawmakers that they have exhausted all the powers of the President, and powers provided under the Epira in solving the looming power crisis.

‘Extra power LP’s ploy’ By Christine F. Herrera | Sep. 08, 2014 at 12:01am

Solons, activists see through ruling party fund-raising moves


Colmenares Zarate

LAWMAKERS and anti-pork activists on Sunday accused President Benigno Aquino III of seeking emergency powers to divert money from the P137 billion Malampaya Fund to the Liberal Party 2016 campaign chest.

People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates (POWER) and Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate accused Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and the Palace of conveniently creating an artificial power shortage to justify the emergency powers that would allow the President to negotiate with power industry players for power supply.

“It is nothing but a bogey to justify the grant of emergency powers to President Aquino,” Zarate said.

“This emergency power is even probably designed so that Malacanang can dip its fingers again into the Malampaya fund, the spending of which was already restricted by the November 2013 decision of the Supreme Court,” Zarate added.

“The Malampaya spending for non-energy related projects was made in the run-up to the 2013 midterm elections. And now that the 2016 presidential polls near, emergency power is being pushed,” Zarate said.

“Why the rush when they did nothing for the past four years? They’re rushing now because the elections are drawing near,” said former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, also POWER president and newly designated spokesman for the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

Casiño said POWER opposes the emergency powers because they would grant the President the authority to negotiate contracts.

“We reject the granting of emergency powers because once the President negotiated contracts for bunker fuel and diesel-fired plants, a ‘take-or-pay provision’ will be inserted, which means that even if the consumers did not use up the power that was supplied by the contractors, the consumer would still pay for the unused power. And this would be passed on to consumers by way of higher electricity rates,” Casino said.

In 2011, Zarate recalled President Aquino released a total of of P13.26 billion in Malampaya funds, with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) getting the largest share at P4.95 billion.

The Department of Finance and National Power Corp. were recorded as the biggest spenders at P4.6 billion, Zarate said.

* The Malampaya funds are disbursed at the sole discretion of the President. Projects funded from the Malampaya do not undergo congressional scrutiny.

“In 2012, the total disbursement for the Malampaya fund was P1.98 billion with the Department of National Defense (DND) and the DOF-National Electrification Authority as the only two agencies that were given access to the funds.

“This kind of spending is what makes pork barrel, especially presidential pork barrel, anomalous,” Zarate said.

“It’s the military that’s making a killing out of the Malampaya funds and it was for this reason that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in November 2013 restricting the usage of Malampaya funds and confined it only to energy-related projects,” Zarate said.

“The government now wants to skirt the Supreme Court restriction by way of emergency powers,” Zarate said.

Colmenares said a total of P6.25 billion in Malampaya funds was released by President Aquino to AFP-DND.

The amount, he said, was almost half of the P15 billion that was released by the President from the Malampaya fund.

“All these have been declared illegal under the November 2013 ruling of the Supreme Court and it is in this light that we are urging the Commission on Audit to conduct a full audit of the Malampaya funds,” Colmenares said.

“Had the Aquino government used the Malampaya funds to develop the energy industry, the consumers would have been enjoying lower power rates and fewer brownouts by now,” Zarate said.

Zarate insisted there was enough capacity to cover the supposed shortfall in the energy supply for summer 2015.

“There is more to this phantom shortfall than meets the eye,” Zarate said.

Colmenares contested Petilla’s assertion that a power crisis will hit the country next year.

Colmenares and Zarate said the data coming from the Department of Energy (DOE) itself belie the forecast 2015 energy crisis.

Citing DOE figures, Colmenares said as of 2013, the installed capacity for the Luzon grid is 12,790 megawatts and dependable capacity is at 11,469 mw.

The peak demand for the grid is just at 8,700 mw with Meralco’s portion of that being 6,121 mw, based on 2014 figures, Colmenares said.

“Deducting dependable capacity from peak demand, there should have been allowance for reserves amounting to 2,700 mw. This is more than the 400 mw deficit that Secretary Petilla claims. Based on the DOE figures even in a tight supply condition, there should be more than enough supply,” Colmenares said.

“Now, even if there would be a shortfall of electricity, the government can still tap state-owned power plants like the Malaya power plant and the Sucat power plant. These power plants should be immediately rehabilitated and recommissioned instead of being sold to the private sector,” Colmenares said.

As of April this year, Colmenares said the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the government agency tasked to manage state-owned power assets, has closed the bidding for the 850-megawatt Sucat Thermal Power Plant in Muntinlupa City.

“Even with just the Malaya power plant alone running its full dependable capacity at 610 mw, it can already offset the supposed power deficit of 400 mw being aired by Secretary Petilla. If the government is to operate the Sucat power plant as well at 850 mw, then, there would be no power crisis for at least three years,” Colmenares said.

“It is good that more and more people and agencies are being critical of this proposed emergency powers because on the one hand it will cause power rate hikes and on the other hand, it will plunder the Malampaya funds,” Zarate said.

The Palace on Sunday denied speculation that the call for emergency powers had something to do with Charter change.

“For the malicious, this has nothing to do with the Charter change some quarters are pushing,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in an interview with radio dzRB.

Coloma noted that the emergency power is just one of the options Aquino is pushing amid a foreseen energy crisis in 2015.

“Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla already said the President is looking for options, where industry players can help in,” he added, saying the energy situation is a top priority, as already mentioned by Aquino during his State of the Nation Address.

Petilla earlier told energy industry reporters that Aquino is already seriously considering seeking emergency powers from Congress after industry stakeholders were lukewarm toward using an interruptible laod program (ILP).

Mindanao, which suffered an acute power shortage, used an ILP with generation uints serving as backup for large users such as malls. Businesses were given incentives to use their own generating units during peak hours, giving distribution utilities the flexibility to serve other customers. – With Joyce Pangco Pañares

MANILA TIMES OPINION

Aquino’s gift to the Philippines By Ben D. Kritz  September 12, 2014 8:41 pm


Ben D. Kritz

Although I have been ferociously critical of President B.S. Aquino 3rd since before he could even legitimately add that word “President” to his calling cards I had a small epiphany the other night: He may be the greatest president this country has ever had.

In his most recent State of the Noynoy, or rather Nation Address a couple of months ago, Aquino went off-script to spend some time musing in worried tones about what would become of his legacy after he’s gone, whether that inevitability arrives in mid-2016, mid-2022, or at some other point in the hazy future (he seems to have not quite decided when that will be yet).

And while he was scored by some observers for making his report on the current status and prospects of the nation too personal, he was right to raise the question. We should all worry about whether or not his successor will properly follow the path he has laid out for this country.

The value of some presidents throughout history, whether in this country or elsewhere, has only really revealed itself after the passage of time. South African reformer Nelson Mandela, for instance, was considered a basically inept, one-note head of government when he finally got his chance, but in his twilight years and since his death, it is generally recognized that he did, in fact, build a system with a certain amount of stability that has allowed South Africa to progress in tangible ways.

Jimmy Carter was considered a bad joke for most of his one uncomfortable term in office in the United States, but since then has come to be regarded as one of America’s greatest statesmen; for one thing, his signature on a particular national security memo was—probably—the ‘small tap in just the right place’ that eventually brought down the Soviet Union.

In the Philippines, the economic foundation laid by Aquino’s predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been widely acknowledged to have contributed to the country’s current growth potential, even though she was just as widely unpopular while in office.

And B.S. Aquino’s own mother Cory, the first post-Marcos era president—okay, so there are some exceptions to the rule. Her heir, however, is not one of them, and the truly inspiring thing about him is he has managed to show his worth and the path the country should follow so early.

B.S. Aquino’s gift to the Philippines is the raising of the level of political discourse and the standards against which candidates for public office, in particular the man or woman who will replace him, will be judged. Gone is the era in which campaigns are built around personalities and vapid motherhood statements like “uplifting the poor,” and “strengthening institutions,” and “not engaging in a level of plunder that the average Viking would consider excessive.”

* Instead, B.S. Aquino has introduced a new kind of politics, one in which personalities and platitudes can be completely ignored, and the candidates for the upcoming elections—the campaign for which has apparently already begun—can be assessed against a set of simple, objective standards.

Instead of being reassured that the candidate “will continue the fight against corruption,” voters will now want to know if the candidate will rebuild the electricity sector so the lights stay on at a cost that is significantly less than the highest on the entire continent. Voters will now want to know if the candidate will be able to keep the cost of rice from nearly doubling in three years, instead of how committed he or she is to “transparency.”

Voters will now want to hear a detailed plan for how the candidate intends to organize and carry out disaster response and recovery, rather than how deeply the candidate believes in “good governance.”

Voters will want to be reassured that the candidate’s specific plan for infrastructure development will result in their no longer having to spend half a shift just getting to their place of employment.

Some will want to know what the prospective president intends to do to develop a sensible paradigm for the safe and profitable harvesting of the country’s mineral resources, others will withhold investing their votes and their hard-earned money until they hear an effective plan to stop the real estate sector from running amok and putting the entire economy at considerable risk.

B.S. Aquino’s gift to the Philippines is his monumental failure to effectively oversee the most basic responsibilities of the national government, to break down the needs of the country under the next administration to a simple level:
Basic peace and security, the reliable supply and reasonable cost of essential food and utilities, a transportation infrastructure that poses less of a risk of bodily harm and which allows people and goods to move from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time, business registration processes that take something less than several months to complete and involve something less than several dozen steps, and the reasonable assurance that one’s family will not be consigned to a lean-to made out of plywood and discarded vinyl advertising banners for a year or more after a natural or man-made disaster while a “czar” leads a committee in writing a book about it first.

B.S. Aquino’s gift to the Philippines is to show the country, in terms so simple that even the most uninformed or disaffected voter could understand, that what the country really needs is a president who can simply do the job—actually identify needs and objectives, choose managers with obvious competence in their areas of responsibility, give them a practical and results-oriented strategy to follow, and hold them to acceptable standards of performance.

As we get deeper into the “campaign season,” we should remember this gift, and not waste it.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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