“Starting late this year, the existing capacity is not expected to be able to meet demand,” Division Chief of Energy Industry Management of Department of Energy (DOE) Engineer Saul Gonzales warned the attendees at the Energy Smart Cebu 2015. While the DOE had already predicted an energy shortage prior to the summit, the previous report stated that the shortage was due to occur in 2016. This is in spite of the increase in capacity reported by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
With the prediction of energy shortage looming, Cebu is scrambling to meet the expected demand. President of East Asia Utilities Corporation Roger Lim points out that people tend to be wasteful when it comes to energy, particularly when it’s cheap. Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Deputy Director General Tereso Panga reported that they are now encouraging their locators to prioritize energy saving and management. PEZA admitted that some locators tend to wait for government support such as rollbacks in prices.
How About Renewable Energy?
Unlike other places, Cebu has limited choices for renewable energy. Cebu is not known for strong winds that are sustainable to be converted into energy and solar heat is available for only 5 hours a day according to Engr. Gonzales [except for the summer season]. Cebu also does not have bodies of water that are sufficient to be used for hydroelectricity similar to the Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City.
Also, renewable energy technology is expensive. Executive Director of ERC Atty. Francis Saturnino stressed the importance of having clear policies to be able to encourage investment in the energy industry. One way is to provide incentives to investors like the feed-in-tariff (FIT) allowance fund or FIT-All Fund, which is described in Resolution No. 24 Series of 2013 by the Energy Regulatory Commission as “a guaranteed payment in Philippine Peso per kilowatt-hour (Php/kWh)” for electricity produced from renewable sources and delivered to be distributed.
What’s Being Done About It?
While Engr. Gonzales said that solar energy is only available for a few hours a day, the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) has been encouraging their customers since last year to install solar panels on their homes, allowing households to produce their own energy. The DOE promotes harnessing the sun’s power, citing that the energy from the sun offered great potential as a renewable source because its radiation on our country reaches 4.5 kWh-5.5 kWh per day. VECO also buys excess electricity produced from solar energy.
PEZA is pushing for locators to use LED lights to save on energy and lessen costs. They’re also making energy management mandatory for their locators. School children are also being taught how to read the electricity meters so they can determine if they had been wasteful. There’s so much room to do more, not just from people in the energy industry and the government but from all of us. Summits such as this one organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) are a good way of regularly checking on our distance between us and our goal. This year, it has served as a call for urgency.
Especially with the predicted crisis, we should never forget to also play our role in conserving energy. We can always choose to start from little things such as turning off appliances when not in use to bigger steps like using energy-efficient technology to taking leaps such as actively encouraging better policies in the energy industry. Cebu is not a place but the people and it has never been more critical for us to work as one as it is now.
Want to help? Check out the Energy Smart website or like their Facebook page to stay updated with their latest news and events. You can also give the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) a call and see how you can lend a hand. Contact them at these numbers: (02) 845-1324 for Manila, (032) 412-1194 for Cebu.
The organizers of the event, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines - Cebu