Fast-track power dev’t — lawmakers

SENATOR Francis G. Escudero on Tuesday said the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC) should fast-track building new power plants to address constant power outages nationwide.

Facing the Senate hearing, Energy Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevarra said more than 4,000 megawatts of power may be added to the country’s energy generation capacity by the end of this year. Mr. Escudero had said that about “1800 to 2250 megawatts are supposed to be online late this year or early next year.”

In a separate hearing at the House of Representatives, DoE Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella underscored that the timely completion of transmission and distribution energy facilities “is equally important to putting up power plants” in order to solve the country’s power woes. 

The Philippines has faced repeated issuances of yellow and red alerts since April due to thinning power supply as the grid is unable to meet electric demand.

The DoE cited the need to transition towards sustainable energy sources and create renewable energy facilities to meet electricity demand, DoE Undersecretary Sharon S. Garin told the same panel.

“Our power plants are aging and we need to transition so we really need new plants not just to increase (energy output) but also to make it efficient (in power transmission and distribution),” she said in Filipino.

“We are pushing for energy transition, we need a healthier energy mix,” Ms. Garin added, as the DoE issued a moratorium on the development of coal-fired power plants in 2020.

Ms. Garin said the energy department expects the creation of renewable, battery storage, and baseload energy facilities capable of generating 1100 megawatts of power supply this year.

Given the country’s potential in harnessing power from the wind, Ms. Garin said offshore wind energy developers are looking to establish operational wind facilities by 2028.

At the Senate hearing, Ms. Guevarra confirmed the DoE’s progress in developing renewable energy sources. “With the plants are supposed to come in this year, 2,000 (MW of the power coming in) are conventional; 1,900 (MW) plus is renewable,” she said.

“There are still some plants that are falling behind in the application, but they are actually ready to come in,” the energy official said in Filipino.

Mr. Escudero had remarked, “If that comes in on time, we will not experience the red or yellow alerts.”

Last month, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) placed the main island of Luzon and the Visayas under yellow alerts after their power supply fell below the safety threshold. — John Victor D. Ordoñez and Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio