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Clear energy agenda sought
SORSOGON Gov. Chiz Escudero said a clear energy agenda should be one of the top priorities of the next administration to avert a possible power crisis and ensure that the country has a long-term strategy for a stable, sustainable and sufficient supply as the Philippine economy reopens and recovers from the pandemic.
“Nitong panahon ng pandemya, maraming lugar pa rin ang nakaranas ng brownout. Paano pa kaya kung tuluyan nang magbukas ang ekonomiya ng bansa?” Escudero said. “This early, whoever is aspiring to steer this country after this administration should make public their energy and power development program.”
Power consumption across the country dropped by 4.04% to 101,756 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2020 from year ago data, according to the Department of Energy, largely due to the Luzon-wide lockdown that shut down business operations in the region. In contrast, residential consumption jumped to 34,292 GWh from 2019’s 30,552 GWh as most were forced to stay at home.
“Matagal nang problema ang kakulangan sa kuryente. Taun-taon na lang kada panahon ng tag-init, kada summer months ay sinasalanta tayo ng brownout pero mataas pa rin ang singil sa kuryente. Hopefully, mabigyan na ito ng pangmatagalan at permanenteng solusyon,” said Escudero, who is also pitching for the use of clean and affordable energy which he has been pushing when he was chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources in 2016.
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.
Meralco, the country’s largest private power distributor servicing 7 million customers, has announced recently that typical households in Metro Manila would see an increase of P65 in their monthly 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.
Another way to address the power supply problem, Escudero said, is to come up with a 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 Development Authority’s projected GDP growth target of 7.5%, the strategies indicated in the PEP seek to ensure the availability of sufficient reserves at 25% over the next 20 years.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI), a London-based think tank, global energy consumption is expected to rise by 2.2% as world economies recover from the effects of the pandemic, with all types of energy expected to benefit from the increase in demand.
“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,” the former senator pointed out.