Hontiveros urges renewable energy solutions amid soaring oil prices

Hontiveros urges renewable energy solutions amid soaring oil prices
An aerial view shows workers assembling solar panels at a floating photovoltaic plant on the Silbersee lake in Haltern, western Germany, on April 22, 2022. Germany's largest floating solar park is currently being built and will produce almost three million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
AFP / Ina Fassbender

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Friday called on the national government to expedite the rollout of renewable energy projects in the Philippines and lessen the country’s vulnerability to international oil price shocks, following another big-time oil price hike this week.

This comes after local oil companies announced increase to prices of diesel, gasoline and kerosene, due to drastic cuts in production announced by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Hontiveros also recently filed proposed Senate Bill No. 378 or the Solar Home System Financing for Social Housing Program Act, which aims to provide impoverished families in socialized housing sites easy access to solar energy technology and its benefits.

"The present situation only shows how vulnerable our nation is to oil price shocks. If nothing is changed, we will always be at the mercy of the market and its most influential players," Hontiveros said. "The government's action cannot be just price monitoring. We need to expedite the rollout of renewable energy projects that will benefit our countrymen."

In one major oil firm, the prices went up by as much as P6.85 for diesel, P1.20 for gasoline, and P3.50 for kerosene, reversing the impact of small price rollbacks in previous weeks.

The opposition senator said that the Philippines today relies on imported oil for the lion's share of its energy needs, which she said makes the country a “repeat victim” of changes and disruptions in global market prices of petroleum products.

Per 2019 data from the World Bank, there are still an estimated 4.7 million Filipinos who do not enjoy electricity at home. The World Bank also said that of 23 countries and territories in Asia, the Philippines ranked eighth from the bottom.

Hontiveros, at the hearing on the annual budget of the Department of Energy, pressed the Energy and Transportation departments for faster implementation of the nationwide electric vehicle program and to iron out issues hindering wider adoption of what she said were “non-gas guzzling” vehicles in the country.

“This latest oil price hike should be a wake-up call that our present setup of importing oil for our energy needs is unsustainable and anti-consumer. Let us tap into our wealth of indigenous resources for our energy needs and end this vicious cycle of dependency on imported oil,” Hontiveros said.

“By investing more in renewable energy projects such as solar, offshore wind, small and medium hydroelectric and geothermal projects, we will be doing much to lessen our dependency on imported oil."

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