March 30, 2022
Reacting to the presentation of ICSC chief data scientist Engr. Jephraim Manansala, which focused on the soaring electricity prices and the projected supply shortages in the second quarter of 2022, including during the May 9 elections, Ms. Castro said:
“I want to start by highlighting the three key energy issues emphasized in the presentation—reliability, affordability, and security—with reliability as somewhat the most pressing concern as of the moment given our political climate.
As Jeph said, “Unreliable electricity supply would undermine the credibility of the elections.” We can expect power interruptions and outages on election day, like in previous elections, which would cast doubt again on the whole electoral process due to the delay in the casting and counting of ballots.
Nangyari na dati nang ilang beses kaya dapat hindi na ito maging excuse para mangyari ulit. Ngunit kung hindi naman nagbago ang ating energy system na fossil fuel-based pa rin, ‘wag na tayo mag-expect na magkakaroon ng steady supply ng kuryente sa darating na Mayo.
Napakahalaga ng punto kanina na nu’ng height ng COVID-19, kahit bumaba ang demand sa energy, nagkaroon pa rin tayo ng red at yellow alert status sa ating power supply. Ipinapahiwatig nito na natural na sa coal at fossil fuels na maging intermittent.
And so the problem is not mainly because the demand is high, but the unreliability of fossil fuel itself.
Unreliable na nga, napakamahal pa. Napakataas na ng singil sa kuryente sa Pilipinas—pinakamataas sa buong Southeast Asia—dahil sa pag-angkat natin ng fossil fuels na halos 80% ng total energy generated sa buong bansa noong 2020. Dahil nakadepende tayo sa pag-import, apektado tayo sa pagtaas ng presyo ng mga ito sa global market at iba pang krisis tulad sa nangyayaring invasion o sinasabing “fossil fuel war” ng Russia at Ukraine.
And since our policies favor fossil fuel companies, allowing them to pass the higher costs on to the consumers, we are the ones carrying the burden by paying the risks of a price-volatile global energy market. Napakaangkop ng term na ginamit kanina para dito—pasaload. Tayo ang nagbabayad sa kanilang business operations risks habang ang mga kumpaniyang ito ay kumportable sa kanilang predictable profit mula sa power purchase agreements.
Sa ngayon din, nakakalungkot na meron pang 1.62 million Filipino households na wala pa ring access sa kuryente, na nakakaapekto sa kanilang buhay at hanapbuhay.
For The Climate Reality Project Philippines, our just transition to a distributed, flexible, renewable energy-based system is our best solution to address our energy issues on reliability, affordability, and security.
Domestic resource ang renewable energy at hindi kailangan i-angkat pa mula sa ibang bansa. Ayon sa mga pag-aaral, kayang pababain ng renewable energy ang singil sa kuryente nang 30%. Patuloy din ang pagtaas ng mga nagtatrabaho sa renewable energy industry sa ating bansa at sa buong mundo. Sa ngayon, tinatayang nasa 178,000 ang employees sa ating renewable energy industry kahit na nagkaroon ng delays sa construction at mobility dahil sa pandemic, nasa 12 million naman sa buong mundo. Distributed renewable energy systems can also ensure energy access to reach all Filipinos especially in far-flung communities.
Napakahalagang sektor para sa climate movement ang energy dahil ito ang top contributor ng greenhouse gas emissions sa lahat ng sektor. Sa patuloy na pag-usad ng renewable energy sa bansa at sa buong mundo, mas malilimitahan natin ang pag-init ng mundo at paglala ng climate change. Gaya ng sinabi ng ating mga experts, not only does renewable energy make good economic sense, it also makes good development sense.
And so our government must enable the environment to advance renewable energy in the country, starting with ending policies that only favor the fossil fuel companies. This includes abolishing automatic fuel pass through[i] and to make carve out clauses[ii] mandatory. The Department of Energy’s moratorium on new coal should also be permanent and executory.
Many companies and governments are already divesting from coal, but fossil gas is posturing to be the new coal. Its expansion must be reviewed in order to avoid lock-in commitments and prevent ourselves to enter into situations like we have with coal. Ultimately, investments in renewable energy technologies must pour in and our grid must be upgraded and modernized to facilitate the just transition to renewable energy.”
[i] “Automatic pass-through” means that whenever the cost of fuel, such as coal, goes up in the world market, distribution utilities and coal power producers could simply pass this higher cost on to consumers.
[ii] A “carve-out clause” protects ratepayers from inevitable stranded asset impacts and shifts the stranded costs to the independent power providers and their investors.