Aquino says government already addressing Mindanao energy problems

March 24, 2012 1:42 am 

MANILA, March 23 — President Benigno S. Aquino III has said the government is already working on several measures to address the power shortage in Mindanao.

Mindanao is consuming more power than contracted for the region so the government is moving in barges to address the energy shortfall in addition to other plans of the government, the President said during a meeting with Department of Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras in Malacanang.

The President met the Energy chief to discuss the Mindanao power shortage. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda were also present during the meeting which was opened to members of the media.

Currently, there are two power barges that can operate to augment the energy needs of Mindanao, but the President said nobody has signed for contracts to buy electricity.

To entice power distributors to buy electricity from power-producing barges, the President said there must be an arrangement for the equitable sharing of the burden in buying more expensive energy, the President said.

There are also five other power-producing barges that can supply power in Mindanao in 2012 to 2013, the Chief Executive said.

The government is also constructing base plants which will take around three years to build to address the problem, he added.

The Energy department said, however, that construction of said hydropower plants may not be viable in the long- term because of the changing rainfall pattern in Mindanao that might affect operations.

So the thrust is to support building more coal-powered plants that can produce cheaper energy compared to solar or diesel-powered barges, Almendras said.

Solving the energy needs of Mindanao is necessary because of government’s plan to provide electricity to 36,000 sitios in the country, President Aquino said.

Also, the President said he approved a P7-billion reforestation fund Thursday to enhance the remaining watershed areas in the country for the sustainable operation of hydropower plants.

The money will ensure that communities near watershed areas and forests will be able to plant more trees for long-term benefits. (PNA)

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