Aquino vows: Special powers only for energy shortage

Natashya Gutierrez

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Aquino vows: Special powers only for energy shortage
President Benigno Aquino III assures concerned sectors and the public that government intervention will not distort the energy market

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday, September 30, gave his assurance that his request for special powers from Congress will be used solely to address a pending energy shortfall.

Aquino gave the reassurance at the first day of Energy Smart Philippines 2014 – a two-day conference on energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean technology – which is his first public appearance since he arrived from a two-week trip to Europe and the United States on September 25.

On Tuesday, Aquino echoed the administration’s need to get authorization from Congress to contract additional generating capacity in the face of a potential 300- megawatt shortfall of energy in 2015. 

“I am aware that investors in the energy sector are worried about these measures distorting the market, but let me assure you: government intervention is meant only to address the shortage,” Aquino said at the conference held at the SMX Convention Center.

He added, “The sole goal of this initiative is to make sure our economy does not lose its momentum in the event of an energy shortage.”

The President’s reiteration comes as lawmakers mull giving additional powers to the President, which many believe should be a last resort to address an impending power shortage.

Earlier this month, Aquino announced he would ask Congress to sign a joint resolution allowing government to contract additional power supply as a means of addressing the expected power deficiency in 2015.  (READ: Petilla to Congress: Act fast, energy crisis looms)

Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) provides that upon the determination of the President of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity.

The House of Representatives has since decided to conduct a congressional inquiry to determine its necessity, rather than an outright grant of special powers to Aquino.

The Senate also opted to conduct hearings, which it began on September 25.

No joint resolution was filed before the last day of session on September 26, before Congress adjourned for a 3-week break. (READ: Congress adjourns, no additional powers for Aquino)

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has warned of a 7-week rotating brownout in the summer of 2015 if Aquino is not granted special powers soonest, or by September, as it takes months to purchase or lease piwer generators.

Continous efforts

Aquino said the request for additional generating capacity is one step towards the country’s overall goal for the energy sector.

“Our country’s goal for the energy sector has always been clear: we want reliable power, preferably clean and reasonably priced,” he said. “Naturally, this involves balancing multiple priorities. For instance, as our country continues its rapid growth, we must keep up with demand so that we can maintain our economic momentum.”

The President, who was in New York on September 23 to attend the United Nations Climate Change Summit, also said the government continues to work on maintaining and improving a low-emission development strategy. Among its efforts include:

  • The National Renewable Energy Program, with the aim of adding 9,931 megawatts of renewable energy-based capacity by 2030
  • New solar power projects like the San Carlos Solar Energy Facility expected to produce 22 megawatts of solar power
  • Incentivizing 250 more megawatts of solar power
  • The Philippine Energy Efficiency Program, which includes the distribution of 8.6 million compact fluorescent lamps to the public and the replacement of lighting systems in government offices and public spaces
  • Procurement of 3,000 e-tricycles by 2015 with the goal of replacing 100,000 gas-fueled tricycles with electric ones

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.