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Aquino to solons: Hurry with my powers

/ 08:17 AM October 12, 2014

BALI, INDONESIA—President Benigno Aquino III wants Congress to hasten the passage of a resolution granting him emergency powers, citing the urgency of addressing the looming power shortage as soon as possible.

Benigno Aquino III

President Benigno Aquino III. AP FILE PHOTO

Speaking to reporters in an interview on the sidelines of the Bali Democracy Forum, Mr. Aquino warned Filipino congressmen that they would have to take the blame if there would be no power source to rely on in the summer of next year.

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“Who among the lawmakers would volunteer to accept the blame? If you don’t pass this, then we will have no power reserve to use,” he said.

Mr. Aquino said the national government needed all the time it could have to start buying or leasing foreign generators as measures to offset the power shortages before the expected power supply shortfall by March next year.

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“What we are after is the immediate passage of the resolution. If you are going to pass it, pass it sooner before it’s too late,” he said.

On Sept. 12, Mr. Aquino asked Congress to pass a joint resolution to establish generating capacity, citing the Section 71 of Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001, which prohibits the government from running and putting up power plants.

The President needs emergency powers to implement programs such as the Interruptible Load Program, an instrument which allows distribution utilities to either cut off or reduce the electricity being supplied to them, particularly during peak periods of the day or during emergency conditions.

Energy officials predicted that the program alone could easily provide 2,300 megawatts in additional capacity coming from the existing generators privately owned by enterprises.

“We want all these programs in place before the beginning of March,” he said.

The President said the power shortage could be attributed to a lot of things, among them, the power plants which are not able to reach their installed capacity or the maximum electricity they can produce.

“What was reported to me is there are at least two [power plants] that produce merely half of the installed capacity. One has a problem with boilers and the other has vibration problems,” he said.

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However, the President’s request could face some delay after congressmen have urged the House energy committee to subject the proposal to public hearings.

Mr. Aquino noted that the sooner he was given the special authority by Congress, the more time he could have to address the shortfall.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla earlier warned the country about the power shortage which would peak up to 800 MW for Luzon and the Visayas grids by the summer of 2015 due to the onset of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Petilla cited the thinning hydropower capacity as well as the high demand for power during the summer as among the causes of the power shortage.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the government needed at least P6 billion to contract for 300 MW, the expected power shortfall at the minimum by next year.

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TAGS: Aquino, Bali Democracy Forum, Benigno Aquino III, Congress, Electric Power Industry Reform Act, emergency powers, Epira, Jericho Petilla, President Aquino
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