Why lawmakers eye emergency powers for PNoy

by Jenny Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2014 08:04 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2014 06:31 AM

MANILA - The House Committee on Energy on Tuesday assured there will be no rotational power blackouts in the summer of 2015 despite warnings of a looming energy shortage.

The committee is studying the possibility of giving emergency powers to President Aquino, which is one of the options being considered to mitigate the effects of the projected shortage.

Committee Chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali said that while there is no request from the President at this time, they are already researching about the possibility of granting him emergency powers.

The committee is looking at three options if the energy shortage happens.

First is the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) wherein companies with self-generating capacity will be asked to help meet the demands of the Luzon grid.

If the companies volunteer their participation, there will be no need to grant emergency powers.

If not, giving the President emergency powers will allow him to compel companies to participate.

The committee is also looking at energy conservation, particularly in government offices.

However, they said the Department of Energy (DOE) has yet to give them the exact figures on energy needed.

If worse comes to worst, the committee will turn to additional capacity rental but officials said this is their last resort that will only happen if all other options fail.

Next week, the House committee is set to invite DOE officials to discuss options.

They will also see if there really is a need to grant emergency powers to the President.

However, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares is doubtful on the intentions behind granting emergency powers to Aquino.

Colmenares said if the government is keen on addressing the power crisis, it should have invested on long-term solutions since the beginning of Aquino's presidency.

He added that if they invested on major infrastructure such as additional power plants, those projects would have been finished by now.

Colmenares also said Umali's promise that no extra charges will be passed on to consumers is impossible.