Rush to renewables saddling PHL with costly power — DoE

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A woman gathers pebbles beneath a row of windmills on Bangui Bay, Ilocos Norte. -- AFP

THE PHILIPPINES has embraced renewable energy but may be paying the price in the form of increased power costs, deterring industries from locating here, the Department of Energy (DoE) said.

“We at DoE are trying to find ways to make our electricity more affordable, more competitive,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in a news conference on Monday. “I’m having a hard time thinking because our electricity tariff is expensive.”

He said climate change has encourage the country to turn to renewables. He added that the Philippines is way ahead of other countries not only in the region or Asia as it has efficiently developed renewable energy sources from hydropower, geothermal, solar and wind.

As of June, renewable energy accounted for 32.6% or 7,038 megawatts (MW) of total installed capacity, with dependable capacity at 31.7% or 6,199 MW.

“Our carbon footprint is only 0.4%,” he said.

However, he said in embracing renewables the country seems to have been penalized with higher electricity tariffs, which is said to be the second-highest in Asia.

“We are uncompetitive in our region,” he said, with investment pouring into other countries “that continue to use coal and nuclear.”

He said although the country is “happy” in promoting renewable energy, it should also be rewarded for doing the right thing.

“Can we not ask also the Climate Change Commission to [tell] manufacturing companies to go to countries where energy is cleaner, the power source is cleaner, even though it is more expensive,” he said.

“Why can’t we have that outlook,” he said in Filipino. “I hope industries eventually prefer to locate in countries where the source of energy is clean.”

He said in wealthier countries, consumers can demand that their electricity distributors supply clean energy. He said the Philippines would need to put up a “smart” grid to allow end-users to elect their preferred power source.

The DoE held the news conference in its headquarters in Taguig City to observe the annual National Energy Consciousness Month, which was attended by Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda. During the event, Energy officials unveiled four electric vehicles, four plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and a charging station. — Victor V. Saulon