Department of Energy

Renewable energy advocates ask Marcos to carefully choose next DOE chief

Bobby Lagsa
Renewable energy advocates ask Marcos to carefully choose next DOE chief
The Mindanao-based Institute for Power Sector Economics says the next DOE chief should be able to lead the country toward the direction of renewable energy dependency in the coming years

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Groups advocating reforms in the country’s energy sector called on president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to carefully choose the country’s next energy secretary.

The Mindanao-based Institute for Power Sector Economics (IPSEC) on Thursday, June 16, said that the next Department of Energy chief should be able to lead the country toward the direction of renewable energy dependency in the coming years.

“Anyone should be better than outgoing Secretary (Alfonso) Cusi,” said IPSEC director Dave Tauli.

Tauli, a former vice president for engineering of the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco), said the DOE under Cusi has been “very ineffective in promoting renewable energy in the Philippines that it does not matter who gets appointed as DOE secretary.”

Tauli said, “We hope the next DOE chief will enable Mindanao to source its requirements for electricity 100% from renewable energy power plants by 2030.”

Mindanao, he said, has been sourcing 80% of its electricity from coal-fired power plants.

Electricity generated by coal-fired power plants accounted for some 47.6% of the energy mix in the country in 2021. Some 18% were from other fossils, and 10.7% were from gas.

In 2008, Congress passed the renewable energy law, and the government adopted the National Renewable Energy Plan 2011, an ambitious five-step plan to generate 15.3 gigawatts of renewable power by 2030, and more than 20 gw by 2040.

The Power for People Coalition (P4P), a power consumers’ advocacy group, said it hoped the incoming Marcos administration would focus on developing and tapping renewable energy sources.

Gerry Arances, P4P convenor, said: “The outgoing Duterte administration, through the policies of DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi, chose to embrace dependence on imported fossil gas in years to come instead of tapping locally abundant renewable energy sources like solar and wind, to the detriment of consumers. Mr. Marcos should know how unwise it will be to continue on that path.”

The group said Marcos should pick an energy secretary with a proven track record in advancing renewable energy causes against pressure from vested interests.

P4P made the call even as it pointed out that the country and other Southeast Asian nations have continued to embrace the use of fossil gas in their transition from coal.

“What do developing countries like the Philippines need? Affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity,” said Arances.

Arances said Russia’s war in Ukraine exacerbated the rising prices of fuel, resulting in inflation and shortages which highlighted the downside of overreliance on fossil fuel.

“Every administration said they want to secure energy independence for the Philippines. But their actions had belied their words because every administration chose coal and now fossil gas – and consumers are now left with electricity bills they cannot afford,” he said.

Lawyer Efeminita Taqueban, executive director of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of Earth, said the next administration should see the urgency of moving away from dirty energy while ensuring that the transition would be done in a just manner, and with respect for peoples’ rights to meaningful development and healthful ecology. – Rappler.com