Senator paints grim energy shortage in 2015
Manila, Philippines — A political ally of President Aquino in the Senate has blamed the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the current energy shortage nationwide, saying it did not move strongly on the energy sector.
“But we will have a bigger shortage next summer in 2015. Yan po kasalanan ni (President) Benigno Aquino (III) because they did not do enough, the major problem that is manifested is the lack of power,” Sen. Sergio R. Osmeña III, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said.
Although he is a political ally of President Aquino, Osmeña described the President as a “bad manager” for having appointed former Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla as Department of Energy (DoE) secretary who is a politician and is tagged as a “part-time secretary.”
While Metro Manila had a brief brownout last week that did not occur in key areas such as the financial district of Makati City, but Luzon’s power supply is tenuous at best, he said.
He cited last week’s thin reserve power of only 250 megawatts (MWs) although the needed maximum reserve power supply is 2,500 MWs.
“Because of the (old) age of our (power generating) plants, the likelihood of (their) breaking down is more,” he added.
“We need a reserve of 25 percent based on the age of our plants. If the total peak demand is 8,700 MWs, then we need (reserves of) about 2,500 MWs,” he said.
As both the Arroyo and Aquino administrations have not put up adequate number of new power plants within a four- to five-year construction cycle or rehabilitate aging power plants to face increasing demand by industries and an increasing population, the country, particularly Mindanao and the Visayas, is now skating on thin ice, he pointed out.
Luzon, according to Osmeña, lacks 2,000 MWs because several plants have no expected completion dates of repairs such as Sta. Rita (260 MWs), Malaya One (300 MWs), Malaya 2 ((350 MWs), Limay (60 MWs), and Pagbilao (375 MWs). Calaca is also bracketed in the same situation.
Should one power plant go out of commission, this means that Luzon, particularly Metro Manila, would have power shortages, Osmeña said.
The “unattended” power sector “is one of the reasons we are not getting enough foreign investments,” he pointed out.
“Between you and me, we don’t know exactly what’s happening in the energy sector,” he said, adding big investors look 25 years ahead because they put up big factories and they have to get a return of their investments back.
He also said that government has to put up roads for expensive geothermal exploration projects of domestic and foreign investors who may lose $50 million for such business ventures.
“That is why we cannot fully utilize our geothermal potentials until government puts up the infrastructure in place. And such expenditures should be in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),” he added.