Gov't to cut red tape to bring in more power plants
MANILA, Philippines – In its bid to improve the power situation in the country, the Department of Energy (DOE) is set to cut its processes to spur the construction of new power plants.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told the Senate energy committee that the DOE would fix its application process to fast-track the entry of new power players.
Cusi said that under the current system, the application for a power plant requires 122 signatures for approval.
“First our permitting [system] has to improve because there are a lot of applications. We have to make permitting a lot easier and really [improve] the process,” Cusi said on Tuesday, August 16, during the 1st Senate inquiry into simultaneous power outages in Luzon.
Cusi said the DOE is still reviewing the possibility of lengthening a permit’s validity, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s goal of cutting red tape in government.
“We have to institutionalize the permitting as mandated by President Duterte. He doesn’t want any permits to be taking too long because of the number of agencies involved,” Cusi said.
Neophyte Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the committee on energy, said there is a strong need to define the processes well to expedite the building of new power plants.
If not, Gatchalian said, there would be a continuous shortage in power supply. (READ: May 2016 polls blamed for Luzon power blackouts)
“Makikita natin to build a power plant it takes 3 to 4 years. Kung sa red tape pa lang isang taon na, 3 to 4 years sa power plant, that’s years. If it takes us 5 years to build power plants, talagang kukulangin tayo [sa supply],” Gatchalian said.
(We can see that it takes 3 to 4 years to build a power plant. Red tape adds another year, so if it takes 3 to 4 years for just one power plant, that's years. If it takes us 5 years to build power plants, we will really be short [on supply].)
10,000MW needed til 2030
Despite the simultaneous shutdown of 9 power plants, Cusi maintained there is no looming power crisis. (READ: DOE probing power utilities' violations amid blackouts)
Asked how much power supply the country needs in the next 15 years, Cusi estimates over 10,000 megawatts.
“If there's an annual GDP of 5% and 1.5% population growth, for the period 2016 to 2030, 10,191MW without consideration that the plants might be replaced as determined by audit,” Cusi said.
It remains unclear, however, how much of these would be fulfilled in the coming years, as it takes at least 3 years to build a power plant.
From July 25 to August 5, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines has raised yellow and red warnings over Luzon due to insufficient power supply in the Luzon power grid, after 8 power plants had unscheduled shutdowns simultaneously. This prompted a Senate investigation. – Rappler.com