Next president must ensure PH is brownout free

30 June 2015

The next President must aggressively pursue a long-term strategy for adequate and reliable power supply in the country, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said today.

Marcos was reacting to reports that a blackout threatened to hit Luzon Monday after 10 power plants failed to run because of technical difficulties, shedding off over 1,275 megawatts from the grid.  In response, the National Grid Corporation placed the Luzon grid on red alert for an hour due to zero contingency reserves.

Marcos noted that most of the new power plants being built by the government are expected to go online at the end of 2016, placing the burden of ensuring ample power supply for the country on the shoulders of the next administration.

“From day one, the next administration should attend to the task of building our power generation capacity not only to provide sufficient power reserves, but also to address the expected annual increase in power demand,” Marcos said.

“Unless this is done, we will likely be in for a shock----frequent and longer brownouts for the entire country,” he added.

Marcos said that while around 23 coal-fired power plants are expected to be operational by 2020, they may not be enough.

Based on the projections of the Department of Energy, the country’s peak demand for power will grow at an annual average rate of 4.3 percent from 2012 to 2030.

Within that period, the DOE said the country will need over 13 megawatts of new power capacities to meet domestic power requirement, including the needed reserve margin.

Early this year, the DOE warned of the looming power crisis and asked Congress to grant emergency powers to the President to avert impending brownouts.

“Congress has granted the emergency powers for Malacañang but the situation remained practically the same: we have thin power reserves in Luzon and Visayas, and Mindanao continues to suffer from rotating brownouts. There is no other option but to build more power plants,” Marcos said.

Aside from merely preventing the inconvenience brought about by brownouts, Marcos said building more power plants will also boost the country’s economic growth.

“With more power-generating plants, we would have dependable and adequate supply of electricity--- possibly even enjoy lower power bills---then, we can address the principal reason why foreign businessmen think twice about investing in the Philippines,” Marcos said.

He cited a 2014 report of the Wall Street Journal saying the “high cost and sketchy reliability of electricity supplies” in the Philippines as a persuasive reason foreign businesses think it is better to invest elsewhere.

Marcos, Chairman of the Committee on Public Works, has been advocating increased public spending for infrastructure, including power-related projects, to fuel the growth of the country’s economy and generate more jobs for the poor.

As a former Ilocos Norte governor, Marcos pioneered the use of renewable energy with the establishment of a power-generating wind farm in Bangui town, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.