European Chamber 'deeply concerned' over PH power situation

Posted at 08/04/14 6:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - European businessmen are "deeply concerned" about the power situation in the Philippines.

Henry Schumacher, vice president for external affairs at the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, raised the issue of the reserve deficiency in the Luzon grid next year. The reserve deficiency is seen between 300 to 400 MW.

"No one can buy a 300 MW power plant off the shelf. It takes a minimum of three years and in the Philippines with all the 162 environmental and other clearances, more than five years to get a good sized power plant ready for hook up to the grid," he said in a statement.

Instead of building new plants, Schumacher proposed a short-term solution to the power problem - energy saving.

"We have maintained for a long time that if all of us, from government to the private sector, from industrial zones to the malls, from call centers to individuals, would join hands in implementing energy savings or energy conservation, we can jointly easily save 20 to 30 percent of energy consumption, and that is easily the capacity of the power plant we need ASAP or the energy deficiency we are facing in the years to come," he said.

He noted that investments in energy efficiency have a pay-back period of three to five years; and several banks are committed to financing energy efficiency projects.

"Short-term measures to buy generation capacity are super expensive and will drive the price of power further up," he said.

Schumacher urged government leaders and the private sector to undertake energy-saving measures and invest in energy efficiency.  

"National government and LGU leaders are called upon to create an environment where investment in energy efficiency is strongly encouraged by offering a 'carrot and stick' policy: incentives for those who make the right move and penalties for those who need to be pushed into energy efficiency. The 'stick' is needed to support energy supply as the driver for economic growth we are looking forward to," he said.

Earlier, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has recommended to President Aquino to declare a state of emergency on the power situation, based on a projected deficiency in supply by the summer of 2015.

While there are new power plants being built, Petilla said the Department of Energy feels that some of them will not be online or add power to the grid as scheduled to meet the expected demand in electricity.