Gov't should construct own power plant: Ex-DOE chief

Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2023 09:29 PM

MANILA - The Philippine government should construct its own 500-megawatt power plant that can be tapped during shortages, a former head of the Department of Energy said on Wednesday. 

Former Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said this government-owned plant can be utilized only during red or yellow alerts so it will not compete with the private sector when there is insufficient electricity reserve.

Petilla said his own sources revealed the power supply this summer is going to be tight.

The Department of Energy earlier warned the Luzon grid could face 12 yellow alerts between March and November this year, due to insufficiency of power reserves.

Luzon is expected to have thin operating margins from April to June “due to the historically high demand during the summer months,” the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said. 

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said no private investor will put up a power plant if they have no trust in the economy, and they do not have a firm, contract from utilities or cooperatives. 

Lotilla called on the public to use energy more efficiently as Luzon faces the possibility of thin electricity reserves that may plunge Metro Manila into blackouts.

Among Lotilla's suggestions are keeping the aircon thermostat at 24-25 degrees centigrade, and for government officials to avoid wearing suits and use barong instead to feel more comfortable.

His department has also espoused the use of laptops instead of desktops as it is 85 percent more energy efficient.

The DOE also pushes for a shift to LED lighting and conversion to inverter technology appliances.

DOE offices have also shifted to a 4-day work week, with a 1-day work-from-home scheme, to save on electricity costs, Lotilla said.

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