Looming power crisis to affect Philippine economy

Manila – The looming power shortage in the Philippines could affect the country’s economic growth and international conferences scheduled in Manila next year.

Businessman Ramon del Rosario, chairman of the Makati Business Club (MBC), the country’s premier business group, told the local media over the weekend that massive power outages would disrupt the momentum of the Philippine economy and negatively affect the improving investment climate.

“We cannot afford massive brownouts in 2015,” Del Rosario was quoted as saying. He appealed to the Philippine Congress and the Department of Energy to avert a power crisis.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry also said the country needs more investments in the power sector.

A power shortage in the Philippines could likewise affect the country’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings scheduled in the county in late 2015.

Malacanang, the seat of the Philippine government, has earlier approved eight areas in six regions as sites for hosting the APEC meetings scheduled next year.

The areas approved to host the APEC meetings include Metro Manila; Boracay and Iloilo City in the Western Visayas; Tagaytay City in Southern Tagalog; Metro Cebu in the Central Visayas; Bagac, Bataan and Clark, Pampanga in Central Luzon; and Legazpi City, Albay in Bicol.

Iloilo City will also host the 2015 International Summit of Urban Environmental Accords (UAE) tentatively scheduled early September 2015.

UAE, an international inter-agency advisory group, is in the forefront in the campaign to create low-carbon communities worldwide.

The first APEC Summit-related meeting to be hosted by Iloilo City involves Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on Sept. 21-25, 2015.

The APEC Summit, which would be attended by leaders from the United States, Japan and China, will be held in the country in November 2015.

The APEC leaders’ meeting, said to be the biggest and most high profile annual gathering of world leaders from 21-member economies, will be hosted by President Benigno S. Aquino III before he ends his term in June 2016.

The Aquino administration expects Manila’s hosting of APEC meetings, which will also be attended by top business leaders in the Asia Pacific region, would generate more foreign direct investments (FDIs) for the country.

But local business leaders are worried that the looming power crisis could endanger the preparations being made for the APEC meetings.

“Based on our latest projection, there will be red alert spread out during the summer months,” Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said last week. A red alert means insufficient power supply.

According to Petilla, the brownout could last from one hour to three hours. This scenario could happen during the last week of March, the first two weeks of April, and in all weeks of May, he said.

The projected supply deficiency in Luzon is anywhere from 450 megawatts (MW) to 500 MW.

On Sept. 12, Aquino formally asked Congress to grant him powers to tract additional power generating capacity to address the expected shortage in 2015.

Petilla proposed to invoke Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, the landmark power reform law, to enable the government to tap additional power capacity or generator sets for next summer.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are still studying whether or not they would grant President Aquino’s request for special powers to tap additional capacity. Source: Xinhua