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PH needs clear energy infrastructure program – Gatchalian

Photo by Asia Youth Leader

Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Congressman Win Gatchalian today said there is a need for a clear program of action addressing the sorry state of the energy infrastructure in the country, which currently has a total shortfall of 615 megawatts (MW).

“The next administration should immediately address the energy problem since its continued neglect will only result in the further escalation of power shortages in the entire country,” said Gatchalian, an exclusive senatorial candidate for the Partido Galing at Puso (PGP) of presidential bet Grace Poe and her running mate Chiz Escudero.

Gatchalian said one way of attracting foreign firms to invest in power plants in the country is to reduce the time in securing the needed permits to construct new power plants that are needed to address the current power shortage.

“I was informed that it takes more than 100 signatures to get executive approval for the construction of a new power plant. And getting these 100 plus signatures will take two years to get the paper work done. What we need is to reduce the time to get permits for new power plants given the urgency of the power shortage problem,” explained Gatchalian.

Gatchalian pointed out that the power outages now being experienced in Luzon, the Visayas and in Mindanao is due to the existing shortfall in power supply which the current administration failed to properly address.

In Luzon for instance, Gatchalian said the peak demand is currently at 9,553 MW,  exceeding the existing capacity of 9,384 MW or a shortfall of 169 MW.

“If the capacity in Luzon is not expanded, the shortfall of 169 MW will grow to 561 MW in 2017; 1,009 MW in 2018; 1,476 MW in 2019, and; 1,965 MW in 2020,” said Gatchalian who got his data from the Department of Energy (DOE).

Gatchalian said the outlook is also grim in the Visayas, whose peak demand of 1,733 MW is beyond its present capacity of 1,457 MW. “Its 276 MW-shortfall will rise to 340 MW in 2017 and to 625 MW in 2020,” he said.

“In Mindanao, where there is a given the peak demand of 1,852 MW, the shortfall of 170 MW will jump to 260 MW next year to 541 MW in 2020,” said the NPC senatorial candidate.

Gatchalian said it is high time that the government explore new energy options such as nuclear energy has considerably lower fuel costs and environmental costs which is comparable to wind energy.

The Valenzuela City lawmaker cited as example the 1,400 MW-nuclear power plant in Rajasthan, India that costs $2.6 billion has even lower fuel and environmental costs.

“While seemingly expensive, nuclear energy has considerably lower fuel costs and environmental costs than coal energy. It is of note that nuclear energy is one of the most efficient types given our current level of technology,” explained Gatchalian.

Gatchalian said renewable energy should also be explored by the next administration like the 150-MW wind farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, which had a price tag of $450 million but has lower fuel and environmental costs.

 “All major island groups have substantial energy shortfalls. There is an immediate need to address such, but it is crucial to determine which type of power plant to build,” said Gatchalian, a senior vice chair of the House committees on Metro Manila development and on housing and urban development.#