Tuesday, 2 March 2010

PGMA studying best options vs power woes - Olivar

http://www.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2003064&Itemid=2

MANILA, March 2 (PNA) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is studying how best to address the country's power supply problem.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said inputs from the Department of Energy (DOE) and other sectors will help the President decide on action to take considering causes of power woes in Mindanao and Luzon differ.

"These are inputs that must be considered beforehand," he said.

Olivar noted that water shortage from the El Nino-driven dry spell is compromising power generation in Mindanao where hydro-power plants are mainly used for such activity.

DOE Secretary Angelo Reyes attributed Luzon's recent brownouts to technical problems in three plants generating power for this area.

Olivar said Reyes already submitted to the President his proposals for addressing the country's power problem.

He declined to identify what Reyes' proposals are.

Other sectors are proposing purchase of generator sets and deployment of idle power barges to Mindanao.

Reyes, Cagayan de Oro Second District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and others already called for granting President Arroyo an emergency power to address the problem.

But Malacanang is not rushing into accepting this proposal.

"It should be the last resort," deputy presidential spokesperson Charito Planas said earlier.

Likewise, Olivar assured President Arroyo will act on the problem whether or not Congress grants her emergency power.

On Tuesday morning, Reyes said Luzon residents can expect fewer brownouts.

He reported that Sual plant, one of the three Luzon-based power facilities which experienced technical problems, is back online.

"It should be good for about 647 megawatts of power," he said.

Resumption of Sual plant's operation will help reduce brownouts in Luzon from three hours to one hour, he noted.

Reyes added maintenance work on the two other plants is in progress so these can commence operation again as soon as possible.

Earlier, Malacanang recommended that DOE and National Power Corporation (NPC) look into mechanisms for increasing private investments in power production nationwide.

"We should study how to attract more of these investments," deputy presidential spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said.

He cited enhanced incentives as one possible mechanism which government can consider to further boost private investments in the Philippine power sector.

Authorities must also look into pricing so private investors can still profit from power they produce while making such commodity still affordable to customers, he further said.

Saludo raised need for studying how to increase the private investments, noting power is crucial in further driving socio-economic development nationwide.

He also noted the country needs more private investments since government is already restricted from building power plants.

NPC confirmed this restriction which it said began in 2001 when the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) came into force.

EPIRA aims to develop indigenous power resources to lower electric power cost in the Philippines as well as to encourage private and foreign investments in the power sector.

DOE said EPIRA's passage set into motion deregulation of the country's power industry.

This deregulation opened up opportunities for privatizing state-owned power enterprises nationwide.

The El Nino-driven dry spell now wrecking havoc nationwide highlighted need for identifying power generation technologies that are cost-effective and not dependent on water.

Some areas may have resources for hydro-power plants but the dry spell's onslaught is compromising water availability there, Saludo observed. (PNA)

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