RP needs to build new power plants immediately

Published by rudy Date posted on February 9, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines badly needs to build 5,000 megawatts of new electric power plants between now and next year so as to avert crippling power outages when the economy is expected to recover.

The warning was issued by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) vice president for energy and utilities Jose S. Alejandro during the chamber’s energy committee meeting the other day.

“The impending power shortages may get delayed due to the deepening economic crisis that may stunt growth in electricity demand. But energy officials must take the lead time to bid out and start building those multi-billion dollar power plant projects,” Alejandro said.

“They should look at the challenge as an opportunity to attract new foreign and local direct investments,” the business leader pointed out.

In an in-depth study made by the Alejandro committee to guide PCCI in its advocacy for cheaper and more dependable power supply, it noted that by 2010 or next year, the Luzon grid will need 3,000 megawatts of new generating capacity to be on the safe side.

It pointed out that the 608 megawatts that the energy department claimed was committed for construction is not there. Committee members also observed that the intermittent brownouts that Luzon consumers experience today are symptoms of the thinning reserve capacity.

The situation in the Visayas is worse, the committee pointed out in the PCCI Energy Roadmap report. Consumer demand for electricity had overtaken supply last year. The region immediately needs 500 megawatts to prevent the now regular power outages to grow into disastrous levels.

The committed construction of 320 megawatts additional capacity is not also there.

In Mindanao, the critical period is this year, when brownouts are expected to start as demand for power will overtake the generating capacity of existing plants. The region also needs investments for a 600-megawatt plant.

The electric power outlook today has moved dangerously close to the situation in the last three years of the Cory administration when, for lack of foresight, the government did not move to replace the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in Morong with new plants and instead, collapsed the Ministry of Energy into just an administrative body. – Philexport News and Features, Philippine Star

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