By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz |

TO secure Luzon’s power requirements, the minority leader of the House of Representatives has filed a resolution asking the leadership of the lower chamber to look into the pending approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) of seven power- supply agreements (PSAs) of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

In House Resolution 1161, House Minority Leader and Rep. Danilo E. Suarez of the Third District of Quezon said the appropriate House committee should look into the matter in aid of legislation to help expedite PSAs of power utilities to avoid rotating brownouts that will be costly to the economy.

Earlier, Meralco told lawmakers in a hearing that there were actually more than 90 PSAs that were filed by different distribution utilities and electric cooperatives, following the ERC Resolution restating the effectivity of the Competitive Selection Process (CSP). However, some of these PSAs were being questioned by lawmakers.

The Meralco’s PSA’s at ERC include power-supply agreements on the construction of coal-fired power plants with the following: Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. (225 megawatts [MW]; Atimonan One Energy Inc. (1,200 MW); St. Raphael Power Generation Corp. (400 MW); Central Luzon Premiere Power Corp. (528 MW); Mariveles Power Generation Corp. (528 MW); Panay Energy Development Corp. (70 MW); Global Luzon Energy Development Corp. (600 MW).

“Existing coal-fired power plants are outdated and insufficient rendering them vulnerable to transmission failures that may be caused by disasters like the earthquake in Samar and Leyte,” Suarez said.

Suarez added the construction of coal-fired power plants is part of President Duterte’s infrastructure development which will take seven to eight years to construct before becoming fully operational.

“These agreements are part of the infrastructure-development thrust of this administration, aim to reduce the transmission congestion in Luzon that causes intermittent power outages and consequently interrupts business activities, dampening economic growth,” Suarez said.

Earlier, the minority leader said “[The province of Quezon] may lose P400 million in revenues if we don’t address the very thin power supply against the increasing consumption.”

Suarez also recalled that the Luzon grid was placed several times in red and yellow alert because insufficiency of power following unexpected shutdown and unscheduled maintenance operations, resulting to power interruptions recorded in Luzon.

“The Luzon grid has a maximum supply of 11,000 megawatts while demand reaches at most 9,800 megawatts, leaving around 1,000 megawatts for the national grid corporation’s operating margin,” he said.

Moreover, Suarez, citing Republic Act 9136, or an Act Ordaining Reforms in the Electric Power Industry, said the government is mandated to ensure the quality, reliability, security and affordability of the supply of electric power in the country.