PNoy: More power plants being built in Visayas

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 15 2014 08:15 PM | Updated as of May 16 2014 04:15 AM

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino on Thursday announced more power plants for the Visayas, even as he called for more investments in the renewable energy sector.

He made the announcement during the inauguration of a solar energy project in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

"I am pleased to announce that more power plants are underway for the Visayas grid alone, with most slated for commissioning from this year until 2016: from traditional energy sources, to geothermal, to hydropower, to wind, to biomass, making for an incoming committed capacity of 591.60 megawatts (MW). SACASOL is part of this--and you are also leading the way in solar power, since this is the first solar project to be commissioned in the Visayas," he said.

Aquino expects the country's power requirements to grow with the expansion of the economy.

While he stresses there are enough reserves, Philippine power is already one of the most expensive in Asia.

Aquino expects the country's power requirements to increase.

"For the year 2013, the average available capacity of the Visayas Grid stood at 1,678 megawatts. Average peak demand was at 1,390 MW. Peak demand is projected to increase with sustained growth--especially since we expect dividends from peace in Mindanao, which will have a corresponding effect on inter-regional trade," he said.

Aquino added that the government is exploring the possibility of connecting the Mindanao grid to the Luzon and Visayas grids.

He encouraged investors to invest in renewable energy like solar energy, pointing out the need to diversify the country's energy sources.

However, since solar power is one of the most expensive sources of energy, government has to limit investments to ensure prices of power don't shoot up.

"As you might know, there is a need for government to manage the energy mix, from which the cost of power is derived. Unfortunately, renewable energy is still the most expensive component. It follows that if our entire energy mix is derived from renewable sources, then the price of electricity -- which people are already complaining about today -- will rise even more," he said.

"This inauguration gives me the opportunity to issue a gentle reminder to all those who are still of the wait-and-see mindset: you might only be willing to follow the example of Bronzeoak Philippines and Thomas Lloyd Cleantech when these pioneers have proven the profitability of this venture. I should warn you: by that point, you may no longer be entitled to any of the incentives government is currently offering," he added.

Aquino lauded SACASOL for taking the risk. "It is only right that you are reaping the maximum benefits and incentives, and perhaps are now the subject of envy for those investors who might only follow suit, and come in after the cap on renewable energy has been met."

He said the government is considering an increase in the cap for renewable energy to encourage more investors."So sinabi nga ni Secretary Petilla kanina 'yung 50 megawatts na cap 'yun ay pinag-aaralan nila para maging 500 megawatts para sa renewable para doon sa benefits. So itataas natin 'yung component 'nung renewable energy so long as manigurado tayo na konti lang 'yung dagdag sa presyo ng kuryente."

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla explained the reason."Ang peak kasi natin is 50 megawatts. Dito is 22 na. This is a race, unahan ito, at so far kung nakikita ninyo nauuna lahat, 'yung iba umaatras. So here we have 22, and in Cavite we have at least another 30, mapupunuan na natin ang 50. So that is the reason why we're thinking about raising the quota para 'yung mga interesado ay magtayo pa sila. Kasi nakikita naman natin na it's really viable, magtayo sila at kulang 'yung quota natin, so sa tanong mo kanina, that is our intention na damihan natin pero minimum impact din sa rates natin."