‘Next admin should ensure stable power supply’

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
âNext admin should ensure stable power supplyâ

MANILA, Philippines — The next administration must act quickly to avert a looming power crisis and ensure the country has a long-term strategy for a stable, sustainable and sufficient supply as the economy reopens and recovers from the pandemic, Sorsogon Gov. Francis Escudero said yesterday.

“During the pandemic, many areas still experienced brownouts. What would happen if the country’s economy fully reopens? This early, whoever is aspiring to steer this country after this administration should make public their energy and power development program,” Escudero, who is running for senator, said in a statement.

“Now that we are trying to recover from the pandemic as we move to the new normal, our resolve to attain power sufficiency should all the more be intensified,” he said.

Citing data from the Department of Energy, he said power consumption across the country dropped by 4.04 percent to 101,756 gigawatt-hours (gWh) in 2020 largely due to the Luzon-wide lockdown that shut down business operations in the region.

Residential consumption jumped to 34,292 gWh from 2019’s 30,552 gWh as most were forced to stay at home.

The average electricity rate for residential customers in the Philippines (P8.36 per kWh) was the second most expensive in Asia after regional economic powerhouse Japan (P12.31 per kWh), according to a 2018 study by Australian think tank International Energy Consultants.

Manila Electric Co., the country’s largest private power distributor servicing seven million customers, has announced recently that typical households in Metro Manila would see an increase of P65 in their monthly bill this November for a 200-kWh consumption, driven by higher generation charges.

This brings the overall rate for November to P9.4630 per kWh, up by P0.3256 per kWh from October, Escudero said.

Lack of power has long been a problem of the country, which is hit with brownouts during the hot and dry season and yet electricity rates remain high, he said even as he pitched for the use of clean and affordable energy.

Another way to address the power supply problem, Escudero said, is to come up with new legislation that will support the Updated Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2018-2040, which has remained pending in both the Senate and the House of Representatives since it was submitted last May.

The revised PEP, a product of consultation and dialogue among industry players and stakeholders, contains adjustments in light of recent global developments, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the National Economic and Development Authority’s projected gross domestic product growth target of 7.5 percent, the strategies indicated in the PEP seek to ensure the availability of sufficient reserves at 25 percent over the next 20 years.

Global energy consumption is expected to rise by 2.2 percent as world economies recover from the effects of the pandemic, with all types of energy expected to benefit from the increase in demand, Escudero said, citing a report from Economist Intelligence Unit, a London-based think tank.

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