THE Department of Energy (DOE) under the new administration is geared towards lowering down electricity rates and providing stable supply of power.

Energy secretary Alfredo Cusi said to further lower power costs, more investments in the power sector is but necessary. More players will also guarantee enough power supply.

DOE also plans to remove certain charges that consumers are currently paying for such as the universal or pass-on charges.

Cusi added that they want the Bureau of Internal Revenue “to take out the value added tax from the system loss charges, or the operational cost in power generation.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Energy on Tuesday started its probe on red alert status of the Luzon grid.

Probe in Luzon’s power supply starts
Photo by: Philstar
In the hearing, talks on the absence of proper auditing of power plants and how much consumers are paying for electricity were highlighted by the senators and officials from the DOE.

Cusi explained to the senators the red alert status of Luzon grid last July 29, August 4 and 5 saying eight power plants were on forced shutdown during those dates.

"What happened according to our study — because of the May election na postpone 'yung maintenance ng ibang planta. [Because of the May election, maintenance activities for the other plants were postponed.]” Cusi said.

"The plants cannot stretch anymore the operating schedule tapos nagkaroon pa po ng mga forced outage. [The plants couldn't stretch anymore the operating schedule, then we also had forced outages.],” he added.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, said the unplanned shutdown has led to the grid loss of 2,000 megawatts (MW), around one-fourth of the Luzon’s power demand.

The senators also raised concern on the possible collusion among power players. However, Cusi stopped short of naming companies.

"We're investigating that as part of due diligence. Everything is possible. Napaka hirap din naman na mag accuse tayo na walang basis.[It's hard to accuse without basis.],” Cusi said.

Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chair Jose Vicente Salazar said it is investigating 13 cases of anti-competitive practices, including collusion.

Moreover, legislators also pointed out other inefficiencies in energy management. They asked about the “absence of a mechanism to audit power plants to check if these are running efficiently.”

Cusi also said that they are eyeing of creating and institutionalizing measures, like setting up a group to conduct power audit.

In the next hearings, the senators will zero in on how to avoid outages — and electricity rates can be lowered. AJRSP

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Probe in Luzon’s power supply starts Probe in Luzon’s power supply starts Reviewed by Kristian S. on 17 August Rating: 5

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