Aquino confident DOE can restore electricity in typhoon-hit Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley

December 11, 2012 11:24 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Dec. 11 — President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday expressed confidence that the Department of Energy (DOE) will be able to bring back to normal the electricity supply in typhoon-hit Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley before the year ends.

"Right now, our administration along with the Filipino people are hard at work to get those affected back on their own two feet. Soldiers and policemen are manning the hardest hit areas to maintain order and to assist in rescue and relief work. Our social workers are spending long hours in various evacuation centers, and volunteers are lining up to provide the needed support in order to restore normalcy," the President said in his speech at the International Conference on Retail Markets held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Before the end of the year, the President said, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has committed to restore power in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

"And that is despite the damage wrought, and even the main transmission lines, which we saw, were on the ground already," he noted.

"Buo (ang) kumpiyansa kong maaabot natin ‘yan," he added.

But while the immediate concern is restoring power supply to the affected areas, President Aquino said, "we must also realize that the challenge that follows is making sure that power is affordable, particularly for the less fortunate."

Based on the latest report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the death toll due to typhoon "Pablo" is now 714, with close to 900 people still missing.

President Aquino noted that his administration has been addressing on how to lower the country's electricity rates, citing a measure he signed in June 2011 extending the lifeline electricity rates.

Lifeline rates are lower rates charged to customers who consume less than 100 kilowatt hours per month.

"We need to undertake programs like this to make our people less vulnerable to sudden increases in the prices of commodities especially so that, ultimately, they are given a legitimate chance to lift themselves out of poverty," he said.

In the long term, the President said, "we also want to promote a system that will naturally keep power prices reasonable if not preferably low, and this is the rationale for the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM)."

WESM encourages competition and saves consumers from being at the mercy of a single company with monopoly power.

It also allows consumers to select the retailers who offer the most benefit.

"WESM will not magically lower electricity prices overnight, but it is a sensible long-term solution," the President said.

But while it won’t happen immediately, President Aquino said, "an efficient WESM will increase competitive pressures and will play a large part in lowering the cost of electricity in this country and increasing our competitiveness."

"As long as we are able to ensure a level playing field, then the market will do its work. The upcoming implementation of retail competition and open access can only help. We can look forward to more players in the market, which will move us even closer to more reliable and fairly priced energy for both people and businesses," he said.

He urged participants to the conference to continue its work in bringing light to far-flung areas of the country, maximize renewable energy sources, and making sure that enough companies invest in the energy sector "to keep up with the increased demand brought about by our booming, and hopefully continually booming, economy." (PNA)

SCS/LGI

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