House stands firm on no pass-on provision in emergency power reso | Inquirer News
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House stands firm on no pass-on provision in emergency power reso

/ 03:28 PM March 10, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives will stand firm on its decision not to pass on to the consumers the cost of implementing President Benigno Aquino III’s emergency powers this summer season, the energy panel chair said Tuesday.

At a press conference, Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali said consumers stand to lose if the chamber succumbs to the Senate resolution, which passes on to consumers the costs to provide subsidies for businesses.

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Both houses of Congress in its bicameral conference failed to agree on its differing provisions on pass on provision and the length of Aquino’s emergency powers.

While the House wants to source the costs to the Malampaya fund, Senate wants to charge consumers with the expense of implementing the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), eyed as the main solution to address the looming power crisis this year.

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Meanwhile, the lower chamber only wants the period for the emergency powers from March to July this year, while Senate wants it to run until July 2016.

“It’s already a stalemate,” Umali said when asked to describe the bicameral conference, wherein both chambers meet to consolidate its two versions of the bill.

Umali said the lower chamber would fight for its provision to use public funds from the Malampaya power plant to shoulder the costs of the ILP.

“We have to think of the people. These are people we are representing. This is why we’re standing firm [against the pass on provision],” he said.

The resolution granting Aquino emergency powers aims to beef up the Department of Energy’s existing ILP, under which businesses will use its private generators for power during peak hours to offset demand. The excess power meanwhile will be used for regular consumers.

Senator Serge Osmeña, who chairs the Senate energy panel, said passing on to consumers the cost of the program will make them use energy wisely, estimating that the cost may be at P4 centavos per kilowatt hour.

But Umali said a one centavo increase in Luzon would amount to a P700 million cost to the economy that will directly affect consumers.

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“Napakabigat for every one centavo increase. Kung nag-piso pa ito, lalo na (A one centavo increase is quite a burden. It will only get worse if it goes up to a peso increase),” Umali said.

Asked if he sees Osmeña, who has long questioned the need for emergency powers, as a stumbling block to the passage of the resolution, Umali said: “I’m a hopeless optimist. I have to hear what they have to say.”

In an earlier interview, Umali advised Osmeña not to give sermons to consumers and instead find ways to resolve the power crisis.

“Now is not the time to teach people. We already are so burdened with issues and concerns,” he said.

Under the emergency powers, other proposed solutions besides the ILP are the fast tracking of committed projects and plants for interconnection and rehabilitation.

The resolution stemmed from the request of the energy department to grant the president emergency powers for additional capacity to address the looming thinning power supply in Luzon this summer. Granting presidential emergency powers is mandated under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

The summer power shortage is attributed to the looming El Niño phenomenon, the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya power plan, increased or continuing outages of power plants, and the delay in commissioning of committed power projects.

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TAGS: El Niño, emergency power, Energy, Nation, News, Power crisis, summer
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