DOE assures steady power supply on election day, entire week

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2019   •   1895

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) on Friday assured there will be enough power supply during the conduct of the midterm elections on May 13.

DOE spokesperson Undersecretary Wimpy Fuentebella said at a press briefing that a task force election has already been activated since February to ensure stable, uninterrupted and reliable energy supply before, during and after elections.

The task force, created under Department Circular No. DC2018-05-0014, has eight members including the National Electrification Administration (NEA), National Power Corporation (Napocor), National Transmission Corporation, Philippine National Oil Company, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, Philippine Electricity Market Corporation, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and the Manila Electric Company (Meralco). Six other supporting organizations are also onboard.

Although measures on energy supply have already been laid out, the DOE said, the energy sector will continue to keep a tight watch in case of power fluctuations during the election day.

“Ina-assure po natin ang ating mga kababayan that the energy family is working 24/7 not only for monitoring but we’ve also deployed our personnel to make sure na yung mga kuryente galing sa planta papunta sa mga polling places at sa mga canvassing stations ay magkakaroon ng sapat na kuryente,” Fuentebella said.

The DOE is also set to open a command center in its headquarters in Taguig City to receive reports and complaints on the power supply, ensuring immediate power restoration in case of outages.

Meralco, for its part, prepared 300 flood lights and generator sets to be used in polling precincts in case of power interruption. At least 300 linemen will also be deployed to inspect Meralco’s power facilities.

READ: Meralco on general alert during elections

Meralco also inspected the electrical wiring and other facilities in voting and canvassing centers.

“We’re actually 100 percent complete in terms of inspecting ‘yung mga facilites ng Meralco especially those serving the polling and canvassing centers,” said Primo Alonzo, head of Meralco’s Energy Management.

The NGCP, meanwhile, assured to monitor the power supply situation in case yellow and red alert notices will be issued over the Luzon grid.

“In case na mayroong disturbance na mangyayari, na hopefully ay wala, mayroon kaming naka-deploy na resources, tao, tsaka available na equipment, to mobilize doon sa site para ma-minimize yung disturbance,” said Santiago Dimaliwat, Vice President and Head of NGCP systems operations.

NEA, on the other hand, told provincial electric cooperatives to defer any power plant preventive maintenance works to avoid power interruptions in their franchise areas.

“We have also advised the electric cooperatives not to conduct preventive maintenance a week before and after the elections in order to ensure continuous power sa kanilang franchise areas,” said Artis Nikki Tortola, NEA Deputy Administrator.

In case a power interruption is inevitable, the energy sector said, polling centers will be spared from manual load dropping to ensure that polling and counting of votes will not be disrupted. (with details from Joan Nano)

Suspension of fuel excise tax, detrimental to economic recovery — DOF

Maris Federez   •   October 28, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) expressed before the House Committee on Energy its opposition to the proposed suspension of excise tax on petroleum products.

The DOF warned that suspending the imposition of excise tax on fuel will cost the government about Php131.4 billion in revenue for 2022 which, according to the agency, is detrimental to economic recovery.

“The unrealized public spending and the investments from the foregone revenues will also be detrimental to our economic recovery and long-term growth,” said DOF director Euvimil Nina Asuncion.

Asuncion said that providing a targeted subsidy to the transportation sector will be more equitable than removing all fuel excise taxes which may only subsidize the consumption of higher-income households.

The Department of Energy (DOE), however, estimated suspending the excise tax on petroleum products will lower pump prices by about Php8 to Php10 per liter.

“We specifically proposed the suspension of the excise tax because of the urgency in addressing the plight our kababayans,” said DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

House Committee on Energy chairperson Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo confirmed that he will push for the amendment of oil deregulation law and the suspension of the imposition of excise tax on fuel products. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

House panel supports DOE’s appeal to amend oil deregulation law

Maris Federez   •   October 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on Energy supports the suggestion of the Department of Energy (DOE) to amend the oil deregulation law.

The DOE believes that amending the law is the only solution to curb the consecutive increases in the price of petroleum products.

The panel also wants the government to closely look into the reasons for the price hikes being implemented by oil companies.

It also wants the government to be given the power to solve such price hikes.

House Committee on Energy chairman Representative Juan Miguel Macapagal Arroyo said oil companies should not use the oil deregulation law as a blanket authority to increase the price of their products at the expense of the consumers.

“I welcome the proposal of the DOE to amend the Oil Deregulation Law after oil prices escalated over the past eight weeks. As chairman of the House Committee on Energy, I have long pushed for a special mechanism to prevent overpricing in emergency situations,” Arroyo said.

“The Oil Deregulation Law does not give oil companies blanket authority to take advantage of consumers,” he added.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate, meanwhile, urged the DOE to support House Bill 4711 which aims to amend the said law.

“We now challenge Department of Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi to ask Pres. Duterte to certify House Bill 4711 to again regulate the downstream oil industry as well as the unbundling of oil prices that we called to be done since 2018,” Zarate said.

In an interview, Cusi said that he had already written the Department of Finance to suspend the imposition of the excise tax on petroleum products.

The House panel said it will set a hearing on the said amendment and would invite representatives from the DOE and the DOF. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Pacquiao, Cusi face off in Senate; Gatchalian ousts Matibag from budget hearing

Maris Federez   •   October 21, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing on the budget of the Department of Energy on Thursday went sour as Senator Manny Pacquiao took the floor to question DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Pacquiao and Cusi are members of two opposing factions of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

In the committee hearing, Pacquiao asked Cusi about the alleged “tongpats” or markup in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

The lawmaker also questioned why the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEM-C) remains as a market operator despite the existence of the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP).

“Nakita natin kung paano sinindikato ang mga nasa kapangyarihan ang EPIRA law. Kung yung trabahong para sa isa ay ginawang dalawa kaya doble doble ang bayarin ng mga consumers,” Pacquiao said.

Cusi then explained that PEM-C still manages IEMOP which was created in 2018 as part of the transition stage.

The DOE official also denied the alleged corruption and insisted that they abide by the regulations set by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

“Wala pong corruption. Bakit po ang capitalization ng IEMOP is only 7,000? Kasi nga non-profit, non-stock corporation […] Wala pong kinikita yan,” Cusi said.

“Ito pong sinasabing accusation na ganyan, masakit din po ano. And I hope it can be done outside the walls of Senate at kung may kailangan ikaso, ikaso,” he added.

Pacquiao also questioned the alleged relationship between Attorney Matibag who is the president and CEO of the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) and PEM-C, which Matibag himself answered.

“If Sen. Pacquiao only read the EPIRA Law, buo ang kwento nito eh. TRANSCO noon ang operator muna, bago nag PEM-C […] Wala na TransCo diyan. Alam niyo let’s call a spade a spade dito sa hearing na ‘to. This is all political, Sen. Pacquiao. Alam naman natin to, ito yung pinapasabi mo nung bago ka umalis eh. Na sinasabi mo meron kang pasabog,” Matibag said.

This resulted in a heated argument between Pacquiao and Matibag.

It was at this juncture that Senator Sherwin Gatchalian who chaired the committee stepped in and dismissed Matibag from the hearing.

“This is my committee and you have no right calling this hearing a political hearing. The senators are entitled to ask policy questions,” Gatchalian said.

“You’re out of order. You’re no longer recognized. We’ve given you a chance to answer the policy questions but instead, you insulted this committee by calling it a political hearing. Hindi naman fair ‘yon,” he added.

Pacquiao also slammed Matibag’s action.

“Bastos itong si Atty. Matibag eh. Sayang yung pagka-lawyer niya, eh parang walang pinag-aralan,” he said.

“Wag po kayong mainit, wag po kayo magagalit sa’kin katulad ng ginawa ni Atty. Matibag […] Nabastusan ako,” he continued.

Cusi, on the other hand, apologized on Matibag’s behalf.

“I have to apologize for the interaction if you were offended by Atty. Matibag. I have to make that apology considering that he comes from the DOE family, so my apologies,” he said.

The committee set another hearing for the budget of the other attached agencies of the DOE. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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