* This is my column in BusinessWorld last week, April 15, 2019.
After the water shortage in many areas in Metro Manila last March, next is power shortage and brownouts in many areas of Luzon including Metro Manila this month.
Yellow alerts (insufficient and thin reserves) were issued early this month due to high electricity demand and unplanned, unscheduled outages of several power plants (boiler tube leak, piping leak, boiler slagging, other causes). Red alert (insufficient supply) was issued last Friday, April 12, and many areas in Luzon including Metro Manila experienced a 1-3-hours rotating power interruption. Below are the affected power plants, their commissioned/operation years and affected days.
Note that of the 11 power plants mentioned above, seven are above 19 years old, especially the huge Sual, Pagbilao, Masinloc and Calaca coal plants, and Malaya oil plant.
Many of our big power plants are old, especially the geothermal, oil and hydro plants: 74% of these plants in the Luzon grid are 15 years or older. Which makes them more prone to UFOs.
The Market-oriented reforms for efficiency (MORE) needed are to have more new power plants, especially the conventionals. We should depoliticize the approval process of many power supply agreements or PSAs (about 5,000 MW) that are languishing at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
Last April 2, I participated in a roundtable discussion on “Challenges to the Philippines power sector” organized by the Arangkada Philippines Project (TAPP). Among the debate points was whether the Philippines has enough or insufficient generation capacity both in the short- and medium-term.
The series of yellow and red alerts early this month seems to suggest that there is indeed insufficient supply of stable power.
Attention, the following agencies and groups: (1) ERC, please hasten the approval process of new power plants’ PSAs. (2) Various agencies, please control your bureaucratism and hasten the permitting process of new power plants, DOE can use the new EVOSS law for this. And (3) environmentalist NGOs and anti-fossil fuel groups, you are barking at the wrong tree. Frequent brownouts will force the people to use the really non-clean power sources — candles for the poor and gensets for the rich and middle class. More candles means more fires while more gensets mean more air and noise pollution.
Stories of “collusion” among big power companies are comparable to the “Trump-Russia collusion” hoax and dishonesty.----------------
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BWorld 313, MORE international tourism, April 21, 2019
BWorld 314, MORE de-bureaucratizing laws, please, April 22, 2019