Napocor needs P6B to ensure stable power supply during polls

by Paul Anthony A. Isla, BusinessMirror

Posted at Nov 03 2009 01:03 AM | Updated as of Nov 03 2009 09:03 AM

MANILA - State-run National Power Corp. (Napocor) will need at least P6 billion to make sure power supply would be sufficient for next year’s elections.

This is what Froilan Tampinco, Napocor president, told reporters, adding that the state firm has submitted and discussed its contingency plan with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Tampinco said Comelec officials were satisfied that Napocor has a plan in place that will require maybe few megawatts of mobile capacities that can be moved from one area to another to make sure that any problem in any area can be addressed.

The Napocor head added that Comelec officials said they will also be investing in batteries to ensure that computers can work. But apart from the computers, Tampinco said Comelec still cited the need for sufficient power supply for the counting machines.

Tampinco also emphasized that other power stakeholder like the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines and the distribution utilities and electric cooperatives will work together to ensure adequate power supply.

“We need to make sure that the electricity we generate is wheeled properly,” Tampinco said.

The Department of Energy (DOE) earlier assured there would be adequate power supply for the political exercise.

“We have to ensure and it is my and the DOE’s job to see to it that there is adequate and secure supply of power for the conduct of a political exercise as important as a national election,” Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes told reporters in a press interview.

The energy chief said it is a challenge to ensure that adequate and reliable power supply is available in guaranteeing a smooth 2010 elections.

Reyes made the statement to clarify his earlier pronouncement during a House of Representative hearing on the DOE’s budget requirements. He said he told members of Congress that there are power projects in the pipeline to provide the energy requirements.

In compliance with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), Reyes said the DOE has also tried to attract foreign and domestic investors into the power-generation business to generate the needed power to satisfy the demand.

He said the Epira provides for the privatization of government-owned power generation, and mandated the turnover to the private sector of 70 percent of the Napocor’s generating assets. “That has been done already as we have crossed the 70-percent level. And so the government is getting out of the generation sector,” he added.

Reyes noted that Napocor has come up with a two-year contingency plan—which would cost billions of pesos—to avert imminent power shortfall in Luzon next year.

Napocor, according to Reyes, still has to present to him the contingency plan it has devised before it is finalized.

“As it is, we are already experiencing power shortages in the Visayas and Mindanao since last year and this year, respectively. And we see that the critical period for Luzon is next year,” Reyes said.

The energy chief said he also pointed out to legislators Section 71 of the Epira, which allows the President, upon her discretion, to declare a power-shortage situation and ask the concurrence from Congress to support a contingency plan to address the situation.