BAGUIO CITY—The country’s national energy conservation program saved the equivalent of 27.48 million barrels of oil last year, an 11-percent increase compared to the previous year’s savings, an official of the Department of Energy (DOE) said.
Despite higher world fuel prices this year, the country’s conservation program could improve even further since consumers likely would not splurge while petroleum prices continue to rise, said Efren Balaoing, DOE Luzon field office director.
“That’s the silver lining [in our struggle against fuel prices]. People will conserve energy more,” Balaoing said on the sidelines of a household electricity conservation seminar at City Hall here on Tuesday.
On Saturday, the city government closed a portion of downtown Session Road to vehicular traffic for the city’s Earth Hour countdown. Nongovernment organizations and the Benguet Electric Cooperative also organized an Earth Hour event at the Baguio City jail.
Balaoing said last year’s energy savings improved from the 2010 results of the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program, which saved 24.8 million barrels of fuel oil equivalent.
Based on the agency’s July 2011 records, government agencies managed to save P1.8 billion which could have been spent on their energy consumption, he said.
Awareness of the impact of a changing climate also shaped the energy efficiency programs of 59 companies, resulting in savings equivalent to 91.97 million liters of fuel worth P3.6 billion in 2011, Balaoing said.
He said the consumers’ ability to control their energy use could help ease worries about a potential energy crisis because of how people anticipate the impact of the power outages in Mindanao on the rest of the country.
Balaoing said the DOE was helping develop 20 new hydroelectric power projects in the Cordilleras, a natural cluster of upland watersheds, to supplement the electricity supply generated by existing power plants.
Coal as an option
But coal-fired power plants remain the cheaper option for the government, he said.
To date, a kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by coal-fired plants sells for as low as P5, compared to the P6.15 per kWh of power generated by hydroelectric plants, Balaoing said.
The DOE, he said, is aware of the objections raised against coal-fired plants by environmental groups. “But the technology is now safer,” he said.
The DOE has to process 30 coal mining projects to fuel these power plants, which would require P2.2 billion in combined investments, Balaoing said.