By ELLSON A. QUISMORIO
September 26, 2011, 5:58pm
MANILA, Philippines — Groups from the labor and industry sectors have proposed before the Aquino government a more discerning path toward its renewable energy (RE) program.
In a joint statement, the groups said the government should concentrate on developing cheaper RE projects which in the end would be more beneficial to consumers of electricity in the country.
“Defer any high-cost Renewable Energy Program – i.e., solar, wind, ocean – and focus on the cheaper ones such as biomass and run-of-river hydro and implement them through public auction like in other countries,” the joint statement read.
Signing the statement were Francis Chua of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Ernest Leung of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. of the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport), David Chua of the Philippine Steelmakers Association and Rep. Raymond Mendoza of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Party-List.
The groups stressed that the application of such lower-cost RE programs should give priority to the off-grid or so-called beneficial areas and bring their dispatch to the level of distribution, in order to avoid additional transmission charges.
According to them, the direction and action of the RE Board must “focus on evaluating the development of RE generation in the country and its impact on the economy as well as the buying power of consumers.”
“R.A. 9513 is already complied with in substance as of now,” the groups said, referring to the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. The proposals were given amid concerns on the cost of electricity in the Philippines, now regarded as the highest in Asia.
Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras insisted that the RE prospects in the country remain “bright” and continues to be one of the investment spots for power generation.
“There are available technologies that are now ready for aggressive implementation,” Almendras bared. He said each technology has its inherent economic and technical characteristics and must be applied to specific local realities.
"There are also primary economic considerations which require that we pace our RE programs learning from the difficulties experienced by other countries," he added.