Poe pushes cap in energy mix

by Butch Fernandez – April 21, 2016

from Business Mirror

 SEN. Grace Poe prodded the government on Thursday to consider “putting a cap” on energy sourced from coal-fired power plants in a bid to direct the country’s energy development toward renewable-energy (RE) sources.Citing development of RE sources in her priority agenda, Poe proposed that the Philippines start to focus on tapping cleaner and more sustainable energy sources.

“We will put a cap on coal in our energy mix. Such mix will be determined through consultations, taking into account our commitment to reduce carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement,” Poe told reporters.

She noted the Department of Energy (DOE) estimates the Philippines would need 13,167 megawatts (MW) of additional power capacity by 2030. Of this, she added, 8,548 MW are expected to be generated by baseload power plants or facilities that produce energy at a constant rate to meet the continuous energy demand.

In a statement, Poe also cited reports that coal-fired power plants are now the dominant energy producing technology in the country, being deemed cheaper and easier to build. It reported there are 23 coal-fired power plants in the Philippines providing 5,632 MW of power, or 34.2 percent of dependable power, capacity as of December 2015.

But it also noted the cost of building coal plants did not consider external costs of coal such as pollution and health impacts, as the World Bank said, and if these were taken into account, coal would be among the most expensive forms of power generation.

“’Yung coal, siyempre, alam natin may mga environmental impacts ’yon. Ako, ’pag ako’y naging pangulo, talagang prayoridad ko ’yung clean and alternative sources of energy,” Poe said.

She added that the total committed and indicative coal-fired power plants built between 2012 and 2030 can already deliver 11,992 MW, exceeding the country’s baseload capacity requirement of 8,400 MW, as indicated in the Philippine Energy Plan.

“Ang importante magkaroon tayo ng mas maraming supply ng kuryente at sana patungo na rin sa renewable energy,” Poe said. “’Yan ang dapat agenda ng bagong pangulo.”

The senator said, along with developing RE sources, she wants to “make sure that power becomes more affordable to Filipinos, who are paying one of the highest electricity rates in the world.”

Poe proposed that in order to do this, “the DOE should create an environment that would open up the energy market to more players. Setting up one-stop shops to facilitate the process of doing business for investors, especially those involved in renewable energy, would help.”

“Kung maraming supply, mas mababa ang singil. Kaya sisiguraduhin ko na maraming supply para hindi tayo nagbabayad ng napakataas para sa kuryente,” she added, noting that the Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in Asia. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, electricity accounted for 4.5 percent of a Filipino household’s expenditures in 2012.