Aquino may tap P31-B Malampaya fund amid ‘crisis’

MANILA — The House is now considering granting President Benigno Aquino III police powers after Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla gave a new projection that the country will have a power shortage of 1,200 megawatts that will result in seven to eight hours of rotating blackouts for three months during summer as a result of “a mild El Niño,” Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said Sunday.

Speaking on radio dzBB, Umali said the Palace warned that the country could not afford to even afford one-hour blackouts as these would negate the 7.2 percent economic growth last year.

For this reason, Umali said the joint resolution of Congress would allow the President to tap the P31 billion Malampaya funds to avert a power crisis.

He said the President’s police powers were meant to prevent the passing on to consumers the burden of paying P14 per kilowatt hour in summer.

Umali said the police powers would make it mandatory for the independent power producers to use their own generator sets to bring down the cost of additional power from P14 per kilowatt hour to 62 centavos per kwh through the interruptible load program or ILP.

The new projection prompted House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and House Majority Leader Gonzales to file a resolution that seeks to probe the real power outlook for next year.

Petilla’s new projection was a far cry from his previous projection of a 300 MW shortage that would last only five weeks in summer.

Umali said the Speaker found it necessary to inquire into the real power outlook since President Aquino’s letter to Congress asking it to grant him additional powers did not have details.

“We need to make a determination of the imminent shortage,” Umali said.

What aggravated the problem was the conflicting computation and figures given by the Department of Energy and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippine.

The Energy Department, he said, gave an earlier projection of 300 MW shortage and the worst case scenario of a shortage of anywhere between 600 MW and 1,200 MW.

The NGCP, on the other hand, projected a shortage of 442 MW to 800 MW, Umali said.

“So the scenario is we will have three to five hours of rotating brownouts for three months or in the worst scenario because of the impending mild El Niño, about seven to eight hours of rotating brownouts for three months,” Umali told dzBB.

Umali said the panel is seriously considering not shelling out P6 billion to lease the power generators and opt to tap the IPP instead.