House leader assures ‘tolerable’ power rate hike due to Aquino emergency powers
MANILA, Philippines – Granting emergency powers to the President will surely lead to higher costs of electricity during the summer, but the House of Representatives will make sure the increase in power prices will be tolerable, a majority congressman said.
In a press conference on Tuesday, majority floor leader Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said the fuel costs that may be incurred once the President Benigno Aquino III contracts additional power may be passed on to consumers.
Meanwhile, the costs for the lease will be sourced from the Malampaya gas fund.
“Huwag i-expect ng mga tao na libre ito dahil hindi pwedeng maging libre (The public shouldn’t expect this to be free)…We are making sure that whatever will be passed on to consumers will be as tolerable as possible,” Gonzales said.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla had said based on the prevailing market prices during the summer, the fuel costs to be passed on to consumers will result in a P0.20 to P0.50 per kilowatt hour increase for consumers of 200 kilowatt per hour.
Aquino has asked Congress to grant him the authority to contract additional capacity precisely to address the looming power shortage during the summer, as granted to him under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).
Epira allows emergency powers to the President “upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity.”
“Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve,” Section 71 of the law reads.
Petilla said the agency is expecting an 800 megawatt (MW) shortage in 2015, and that the President must contract at least 300 MW of the total shortage.
The energy department is looking at the following options for the President to contract additional electricity: leasing or purchasing of generator sets, and the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).
Under the ILP, big industrial and commercial customers who have the ability to produce their own electricity through generating sets should cut off or reduce their supplied electricity, particularly during peak periods of the day, and instead use their own generator sets.
This is to give way to the other customers who may need the power than the commercial users. The businesses are also required to contribute their excess energy reserves.
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