Congress: No need to rush crisis power of Aquino

By , on September 27, 2014

(Malacanang stock photo)
(Malacanang stock photo)

MANILA –The Congress is not in a hurry to give emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino III to prevent the possibility of an energy crisis given the need to assess whether the country really needs another means of generating power.

On Friday, Senate President Franklin Drilon stressed that it is still early for them to make a decision whether to give or not the president the authority to add 300 megawatts of power to avert brownouts by next year.

Drilon said that the Department of Energy (DOE) has to submit a draft resolution to give the President the authority.

Currently, the said department is hosting a series of hearings regarding the resolution.

“First, there is no draft resolution coming from the DOE. In fact, the hearing is being conducted upon the resolution of Senator [Sergio] Osmeña and my resolution,” said Drilon.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, is urging the energy department to come up with an inquiry to look into “the need to establish additional generating capacity” to make sure that the country’s energy requirements are met.

The decision coming from the Congress prevents the energy department to speed up the grant of emergency powers to the President. DOE noted that the time is running out in terms of buying or renting generators unless the emergency powers measure is passed this month.

Some of the options that DOE is considering to address energy shortfall include leasing or purchasing generators that costs P6 billion (for lease) up to P10 billion (for purchase), and tapping private companies that will volunteer their excess capacity.

Per Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, the joint resolution must be passed this month given that leasing or purchasing the power generators will take three months to execute.

However, for the House, there is still a third option which is the interruptible load program (ILP). This is similar to a program being implemented in Mindanao that allows businesses to get incentives if they will generate their own power and save energy.

“[The House version is] possibly ILP. That’s for us. We have not heard from the Senate, so the advice is we will check first,” said Belmonte on Thursday.

Since the draft resolution is not yet present, the Senate already opened energy hearings.

For Senator Serge Osmeña, it will be cheaper if the government will buy energy from the participants of the ILP.

During the same hearing, Petilla noted that the government is asking to buy or lease additional power as a “last resort.”

He added that because of time constraints, the government will opt for a no competitive bidding processes.

As stated in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, Congress may allow the “establishment of additional generating capacity [on] such terms and conditions as it may approve.”

The law also prevents the government to contract additional generating capacity.