The Philippine southern island of Mindanao which is one of the two biggest among the over 7,100 islands is in midst of a power crisis with the rehabilitation work required to be done on the island’s main hydro power plant. Typical of the cultural habit of not doing anything until the very last minute, the Senate is in a mad rush of passing a host of legislations to address the problem. But to get these bills into law, a similar bill should also come the House of Representatives. All of these will still take time. In the interim, the observance of Earth Day in the island for more than the usual 60 minutes and daily until such time sufficient power supply is available. Let’s hope the power crisis does not happen to Luzon which is the other bigger island where Manila, the capital and where most of the country’s manufacturing base particularly the export semiconductor industry is located.
Legislators scramble to thwart energy crisis
Posted By Michelle Del Gallego-Ngo On April 3, 2012
With the energy crisis in Mindanao threatening to spill over to Luzon in two years, legislators are pushing several bills that will promote the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, ocean energy and hydrogen to address the shortage.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has proposed Solar Roofs Act to provide “competitive grants” and incentives to encourage local governments to put up “solar energy systems” in their localities.
“Investing in solar power can only lead to greater energy stability and energy independence, mitigate global warming and air pollution, and economic benefits such as increased jobs and lower energy bills,” Santiago said in the explanatory note to Senate Bill No. 2751.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s SB No. 2593 seeks to create the Philippine Hydrogen Research and Development Center under the Department of Science and Technology.
The center will “identify potential areas for development of hydrogen.” It will also “encourage the invention of machinery, equipment, vehicles…powered by hydrogen.”
“A breakthrough in the development and utilization of hydrogen holds promise not only for the accelerated economic growth of the country but also for much cleaner air which will abate the effects of global warming,” Marcos said.
Two other bills by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV seek to establish separate development authorities for wind energy and ocean energy.
“Since ocean energy is a relatively new technology in the country, its potential an economical, safe and efficient energy source is generally unknown to the consuming public, he said in SB No. 2618.
In SB No. 2657, Trillanes cited Bangui, Ilocos Norte, as a “shining example in the Asian region of how to properly utilize wind energy.”
He said the town had been experiencing power outages until it turned to wind energy.
Senator Manuel Villar has authored a bill seeking the establishment of Solar Energy Development Authority to “conduct extensive research” and “formulate a comprehensive policy” on “alternative sources of energy.”
“Being a tropical country, the Philippines is blessed with abundant sunlight which can be tapped as an inexhaustible, cheap and environmentally safe source of energy,” Villar said in SB No. 1086.
In the lower house, Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Teodoro Casiño has filed House Bill No. 5404, or the One Million Solar Roofs Act, which seeks to provide incentives and financing to consumers and small businessmen who may want to put up their own solar power systems.
Under Casiño’s bill, homeowners and entrepreneurs can borrow money from Pag-Ibig, GSIS, SSS and other financial institutions to purchase solar panels and repay the loan from the ensuing savings in their electricity bills.
“Our bill will also allow solar-powered households and small firms to feed their unused power into the grid during peak midday hours at a cost cheaper than existing diesel peaking plants,” Casiño said.
On Sunday, Senator Edgardo Angara warned that Luzon would experience an energy shortage in two years unless the government began exploiting other sources of renewable energy.
Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras, however, assured the public the Luzon grid would not face a power crisis over the short-term as two new 600-megawatt coal-fired facilities are expected to start commercial operations within the next two to three years.
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