Importance of power PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 14:15

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

San Jose, CA. — Because energy is important to the progress of Mindanao, particularly Beloved Zamboanga, today I’m giving way to Mr. Greg B. Macabenta, a columnist for the FilAm Star, a Filipino newspaper published in San Francisco whose publisher is Fortune News Media Inc.

The following are excerpts of his column entitled “Pre-emptying a looming power crisis.”

“...Much has already been said about the past problems that plague the country, going back to the administrations of presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel V. Ramos. Our leaders should already have learned the bitter lessons from the insufferable brownouts, the corrosive affect on the national treasury, and the negative impact on the country’s investment prospects and infrastructure programs — lessons that ought to prompt them to act expeditiously and efficiently this time around.

“The CNN reports are persuasive: the country’s current dependable power reserve is very low at five to 10 percent compared to other Asian countries, like Singapore with reserves at 50 percent; during summer, power outages become unavoidable as supply grapples with the seasonal spike in electricity usage. Offices and households need more cooling appliances, and establishments have to cope with increased tourism activities. These, on top of regular household and business power consumption; the Philippines’ power demand has been increasing at a rate of five to eight percent annually, one positive reason being the country’s strong economic growth; the country’s ambitious 2017 to 2022 infrastructure plans and the growth of the power-intensive manufacturing sector will further add pressure on supply; what makes the chronic power supply problem worse is the near depletion of the Malampaya Natural Gas Facility which provides 30 percent of Luzon’s total capacity of 11,218 megawatts. The facility’s gas reserves are expected to run out starting in 2024, posing a serious power supply shortfall; and, note that a power deficit of 100 MW can result in a one-hour daily rotational brownout.

The solutions are, the CNN report proposes are: “build more power plants as soon as possible; and get rid of the disincentives for private sector investments in power plants, mainly, the red tape that unbelievably requires five years...to process an application for a permit to build a power plant. A power plant investor also needs to secure 162 clearances and 102 permits (is this true, Engr. Ben Conti?) before any work can start on a facility...

“Another promising development is the technology-neutral policy that has been adopted by the Department of Energy. This policy promotes various energy sources such as solar, geothermal, wind and hydro, and also includes coal and oil. The objective is to make power supply cost-efficient and reliable...

“This is good news for current and potential coal power plant investors. Coal-fired power plants generate a third of the country’s dependable power supply and coal happens to be the most abundant, most reliable and least-cost fuel in the country...

“Concerns have been raised about coal, in view of the climate change crisis, but proponents say that the problem can be minimized, with strict observance of the conditions in the Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC), which covers pollution, waste water and tree cutting. The emergence of the so-called clean coal technology could also reduce carbon emissions.”

Admittedly, electricity shall compliment the BUILD, BUILD, BUILD program of El Presidente’s administration. The more buildings, homes and malls rising in Zamboanga, the more energy she will need. And with the resurgent Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority and Freeport and the supersonic speed with which our new airport would be constructed, as would the Mindanao railway system, our demand for electricity will undoubtedly climb.

Incidentally, congratulations to the Ateneans who made it to their golden jubilee. I heard from Mr. Titong San Juan that the homecoming was a huge success. Keep on flying high, Blue Eagles!