MANILA, Philippines - As the holiday season draws to a close, Filipinos now gear up for the upcoming national elections. But as government officials raised the possibility of a power shortage next year, will the 2010 polls be done in the dark?
The government earlier warned of an impending power shortage in the Philippines next year, specifically during the 2010 elections. Citing data, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes has projected that there would be a 4,100-megawatt shortfall all over the country.
Of the amount, he said Luzon would need bulk or 3,000 MW, while Visayas and Mindanao would require 500 MW and 600 MW, respectively.
As a result, Reyes stressed the need to grant emergency powers to President Arroyo to address this problem.
He also called for a "contingency plan" for the so-called energy crisis, which meant additional funds for the Department of Energy (DOE).
Last month, state-run National Power Corp. (Napocor) said it will need at least P6 billion to make sure that power supply will be sufficient for next year's elections. Napocor is an attached agency of the DOE.
Napocor President Froilan Tampinco earlier told reporters that they have submitted a contingency plan to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), which includes mobile energy capacities and spare batteries, among others.
"We need to make sure that the electricity we generate is wheeled properly," Tampinco said.
Just last week, however, it was reported that the Comelec will no longer need the contingency plan, saying that voting machines have enough energy reserves to run for 16 hours straight.
In other words, the Comelec is saying that the 2010 polls will run smoothly even with a power failure.
Not just in 2010
The DOE is indeed looking at a 4,100-MW shortage in the Philippines, but not just for 2010. Data from the department itself showed that the shortfall is spread from 2008 to 2017.
Instead of a 3,000-MW shortage in Luzon, the projected shortfall in the area for 2010 is only 150 MW.
A 150 MW shortage will affect only about 833 households, and not the entire Luzon grid, based on the average household consumption of 180 kilowatt per hour in the franchise area of the biggest power retailer, Manila Electric Co.
Meanwhile, there is no expected power shortage in Visayas, while a mere 50-MW shortfall is seen in Mindanao next year, data from the DOE showed.
Further, this is only an anticipated shortage, which means this "might or might not happen," according to an official at the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau (Power Bureau).
A unit within the DOE, the Power Bureau is tasked to formulate plans and programs aimed at ensuring efficient and reliable energy supply.
Should blackouts occur next year, the Power Bureau official said it would most likely happen within the peak months of April and May. With reports from Leilani Chavez, abs-cbnNEWS.com