Filipinos to Suffer Extended Blackouts Again?

During the term of the late Pres. Cory Aquino, Filipinos suffered the worst ever power shortage. The energy reserve on the power grid is below the acceptable limit due to poor maintenance of power plants, increase of demand due to industrialization, junking of power projects by the previous administration, etc.

It was the Filipino people that suffered most, 4-8 hours of black out in residential areas just made the life of the common citizen a nightmare. In addition to power shortage, water shortage was also a problem but not as popular as the former.

If the power shortage was a nightmare for the poor people, some businessmen have benefited for from it. The most popular was the former Chairman of the National Power Corporation during that time. He and his group of friends sold thousand of emergency generators notwithstanding the diesel generating plants that were installed.

Now in 2009, the Department of Energy is insinuating that there may be a power shortage during the 2010 National elections and worst suggesting that the President needs emergency power to prevent the possible power shortage. Elections or not, is the problem of power shortage real?

Analyzing the Philippine energy mix in 2008

Philippine Engery Mix 2008

Philippine Engery Mix 2008

The coal and natural gas component of the energy mix comprise almost 60%. Most of these plants are still less than 10 years in operation thus a reduced capacity due to aging is not an issue.

I believe that whatever the DOE is trying to imply, there is some connections with the upcoming elections. Implementation of new projects is prohibited by law as it is within the period of the national elections. More so, even with an emergency power, the possibility to cut-in new power source into the power is not feasible even on a fast track basis. Why?

The election is only more than 7 months away. Emergency powers need to be passed on to Congress for approval, preparation of design for the project, awarding, procurement, installation, and testing and commissioning. A 7-month period is just too short for all these process. If ever it will be pushed through, any power source procured under the emergency powers of the President will just be another "Lemon" and will not serve the purpose it is intended for. The project will just become another "milking cow" for the administration for election purposes.

So, if there will be another power shortage, it will be un-natural, and the Filipinos will again be suffering from blackouts.

About the Author

Ver Pangonilo
A Filipino Engineer, Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) - Australia and Professional Electrical Engineer (PEE) - Philippines with extensive experience in concept select, front-end engineering, HV & LV detail design, construction and commissioning of Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Area electrical installations in water and waste water pipeline and pumping facilities, offshore platforms, hydrocarbon process plants and pipelines including related facilities. Hazardous area classification and design certification (UEENEEM015B, UEENEEM016B, UEENEEM017B).
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