Senator Win Gatchalian has reiterated calls to fast-track the hybridization of off-grid areas as this would shield consumers from volatilities in global oil prices.
“It’s important for the government to facilitate an accelerated hybridization of off-grid areas to enable small power utilities group (SPUG) to provide affordable electricity rates for the benefit of consumers,” Gatchalian said.
The lawmaker made the call as the National Power Corp. (NPC) proposed another round of higher power rates in off-grid areas amid higher fuel costs. This could result in a higher electricity rate of P9.7068 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) or 17.54% higher compared to current rates.
Gatchalian emphasized that while the NPC had already committed to focusing on hybridization and veering away from buying new diesel generator sets, it is important to accelerate the hybridization of off-grid areas. As per NPC, hybridization is expected to result in savings ranging from P0.75 to P1/kWh.
Corollary to NPC’s proposal, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it is set to conduct public hearings to review NPC’s proposed new subsidized approved generation rates (SAGR) for at least 13 SPUG areas.
Following an earlier decision by the ERC, electricity rates in off-grid areas already increased from P6.2553 per kWh to P8.2582 per kWh beginning in January this year.
Hybridization will help ensure a steady supply of energy in off-grid areas and wean the country from its dependence on imported fuel, Gatchalian stressed. “Hybridization would help increase the volume of renewable energy and thus would help ensure energy efficiency and security, which are vital in jumpstarting economic development in these areas,” he added.
“Kailangan nating mapigilan ang muling pagtaas sa presyo ng kuryente sa mga lugar na hindi konektado sa grid, lalo na’t marami dito ay mahihirap na komunidad,” he said.
NPC currently operates at least 281 mostly diesel-fired SPUG power plants across the country.