Petilla to mall owners: Use generators

The DOE chief says it's voluntarily, but he will meet with mall owners one at a time – first with SM, whose malls have installed capacity of 135.50 MW

USE GENERATORS. Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla encouraged consumers to use generators as Meralco's rates are expected to rise. Photo taken by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Use generators – at least until power rates become more stable.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla on Wednesday, January 1, made this plea to heavy users of electricity – starting with mall owners – in an effort to protect them from sudden price hikes if the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) were to become unstable.

Using generators would mean people don’t have to source power from the main grid.

“All industries, factories, and other big users of electricity have back-up generator sets. I’ll start with the malls – SM is one. I think it has more than 100 megawatt (MW) hours in installed capacity. They have their own generators, so they can use that for the meantime when they are told to do so. It’s not going to be everyday. Maybe, 12 hours in a year. But this is voluntary,” said the Deparment of Energy (DOE) chief.

His proposal has not yet been discussed with Meralco’s customers, but he said he would meet with industrial and commercial customers in batches. A meeting with SM is expected this month.

Petilla expressed confidence that mall owners would agree with his proposal, which is similar to what Mindanao has been doing. Mindanao deals with perpetual power outages.

“I will just ask them, [do] they prefer brownouts? High WESM prices? Surely, they would prefer my proposal,” he said.

According to the records of DOE, major malls and shopping centers have a combined capacity of 236.39 MW.

SM malls in Cavite, Paranaque, Las Piñas, Manila, Quezon City, Pasig City, Lucena, Bicutan, Makati City, and Pampanga have a total installed capacity of 135.50 MW.

Robinson’s malls have a combined capacity of 29.37 MW, while Shangri-la Plaza, Power Plant Mall, various Pure Gold groceries, Ayala Center, Uniwide Warehouse, and other shopping malls have a combined installed capacity of 71.53MW.

Meralco announced a record-high P4.15-per-kilowatt-hour hike in power rates in December, but this was stopped by the Supreme Court following strong opposition from various groups.

The company said the “pass-through” generation charge accounted for bulk of the rate hike. The charge spiked as the simultaneous shutdown of plants of Meralco suppliers forced the utility firm to buy more expensive power from the spot market.

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