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Nation

More brownouts in next 2 years -TUCP

Dennis Carcamo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Monday said it foresees more brownouts for the next two years without a concrete national strategy by the government to address a looming energy crisis.

The group said the real extent of the energy problem will kick in 2016 and beyond if Department of Energy (DOE) secretary Jericho Petilla will resort to quick fixes and expensive band-aid solutions.

Such short-term solutions the group cited as ineffective are renting power barges and generator sets, gas turbines and effect the Interruptible Load Program, or ILP.

The ILP by the DOE will allow malls to run their generator sets with consumers paying for their maintenance and operation costs.

RELATED: No assurance of stable electricity – Petilla

Under these schemes, TUCP said the generating companies and their distribution utility will merrily do their supply and demand games while continuously burdening consumers with high power rates and more brownouts.

"The silence of Secretary Petilla is deafening. After his 'emergency powers' call was made, he is now backpedalling and trying to portray the problem as less than it is. Either he is the 'boy who cried wolf' or simply trying to place a band-aid fix because he was unable to make a case for surgery to the president, he clearly has not grasped the true extent of the problem," TUCP executive director Louie Corral said.

Corral warned that the ILP program is just a stopgap measure, noting that Meralco customers will now be financially obligated to cover the costs for mall owners running their generators for their own use.

It runs on the theory that by freeing Meralco to keep the lights on in other areas, businesses are doing consumers a favor, he explained.

"We are going to end up subsidizing their malls. But the 2015 power deficit is just the tip of the iceberg. The failure of both the DOE to address the policy gap now makes it inevitable that the crisis will repeat itself in 2016 and onwards," Corral said.

TUCP said the major policy gap is that government does not incentivize the entry of additional and cheaper power capacity if it continues to allow Meralco to enter 'sweetheart' bilateral contracts from their preferred suppliers which will always mean low reserves to ensure high power rates.

To bring in genuine competition and additional supply, TUCP proposes to allow enough leeway in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act for DOE to mandate all the distribution utilities such as the market-dominant Meralco to source their power supply every three years through international public bidding under the DOE and ERC.

"Our call is therefore to clip this self-serving option of their subject the choice of who will supply them to international public bidding under DOE supervision," Corral said.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

DOE

ELECTRIC POWER INDUSTRY REFORM ACT

INTERRUPTIBLE LOAD PROGRAM

JERICHO PETILLA

LOUIE CORRAL

MERALCO

POWER

SECRETARY PETILLA

TRADE UNION CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES

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