DOE studying proposal to declare 'state of emergency'

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 14 2014 06:08 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2014 02:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The precarious electricity supply problem in Luzon in the near future may need the intervention of government despite an express prohibition of the law.

Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the government is prohibited from putting up power plants to boost generation of electricity.

But the same law provides in its Section 71 that the President, upon determination of an imminent shortage of supply of electricity, may ask for Congress for authority through a joint resolution, to establish additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions it may approve.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) last Saturday called on government to declare a state of emergency after Metro Manila and several provinces were hit by more than 8 hours of rotating power interruptions.

Petilla clarified that while he is studying the recommendation for "emergency powers" or the declaration of an emergency situation, it is not because of the brownout last weekend but more for the projected demand and supply situation for the coming months specifically summer of 2015.

Just in case the presidential power is approved by Congress, Petilla said the additional supply will come through modular generator sets or facilities that will run on diesel fuel and not a full-fledged power plant since it takes 3 to 5 years to construct one.

Petilla also said they have until September to study to give them time to procure equipment that can augment the country's electricity supply in time for the expected tightness in power reserve next year.

Meanwhile, the DOE chief said he is asking the Philippine National Police for a permit to be given to the operator of Masinloc power plant in Zambales to use explosives to remove a bus-sized coal residue that is clogging its boiler tube.

Masinloc produces 300 megawatts but is hampered by the big clog.

Petilla said once the clog is removed, Masinloc can bring the much-needed power back to the grid within 48 hours.