Petilla insists on emergency powers to avert crisis

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2014 02:35 PM | Updated as of Aug 21 2014 02:15 AM

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino has not yet closed the door on the possibility of seeking emergency powers to solve the expected crisis or deficiency in power supply.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said the President has not yet turned down his recommendation to declare a power crisis, but noted that the window of opportunity is narrowing for the government to avert a crisis.

Petilla maintains that declaring a state of crisis and getting emergency powers are needed to solve the expected power crisis in 2015.

He recommended declaring a crisis weeks before the President’s State of The Nation Address, but the President has yet to act on it until now.

"If he has to declare, the sooner the better," said Petilla.

He added that he is not yet ready to drop his recommendation in favor of the interruptible load program (ILP) or the use of generator sets of businesses or industries to reduce demand from the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) or the Luzon grid during the summer months.

Petilla said as of today, only 115 megawatts of power is assured from the ILP program, way below the requirement to cover the expected deficit of 600 megawatts.

"Do you want me to pullout (from the emergency power situation)? Sandali lang, wala pa tayong assurance," said Petilla.

The government intends to rent out modular generator sets to boost supply during the summer months of 2015 if the emergency power is granted by congress.

Petilla proposes to use part of the Malampaya fund to finance the rentals but the diesel fuel must be passed on to the consumers in the form of generation charges.

When asked which of the two options is the least bitter pill for the consumers in terms of additional charges, Petilla said both mean higher charges though the difference is minimal.

"We want to avoid unnecessary spikes, the usual spikes pa rin (during summer)," he said.

The energy chief said, if at all, what should be compared are the rates in summer 2014 and next summer, but even he cannot estimate how much the price difference is.