Secure energy sector (2)

Quietly, the administration of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte has put in place the foundation for sustainable growth while laying down the groundwork for new sources of development that the current administration can build on.

Tangible gains through the “Build, Build, Build” are all over as Filipinos now enjoy more efficient public transport services and more are opening soon.

The less ubiquitous gains are in policies that make it easier and faster for President Bongbong Marcos to apply bigger reforms.

A good example is the energy sector in which a game changer was initiated through Department Circular 2021-09-0028 which established the Philippine Strategic Petroleum Reserve Program.

Under the scheme, a national petroleum reserve will be maintained to shield the country against global supply and price disruptions.

The country is a net importer of petroleum products which makes it vulnerable to global price shocks such as what had transpired from the East European conflict.

Another fulfilled goal of former Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was affording a great majority of Filipino families access to electricity.

Last year, 95.4 percent of households use electricity compared to 90.65 percent in 2016.

Thus, 25.02 million households now enjoy the benefits of electricity services. This lightens the load of the current administration which has to look for an electricity supply for 1.06 million families who live in darkness.

A great deal of Filipinos who remain outside the electricity grid lives in Mindanao where the electrification level is at 86 percent.

Full electrification also becomes easier after former President Duterte signed in December 2021 EO 156 entitled “Instituting Measures to Ensure Consistent and Reliable Electricity Service in Inadequately Served Areas, Improve Performance of Ineffective Distribution Utilities, and Achieve Total Electrification of the Country”.

One of the reasons for the leveling off in electricity prices was Republic Act 11371, or the Murang Kuryente Act, which mandated the use of the government’s share from the Malampaya Deepwater-Gas-to-Power project to pay the stranded costs and debts of the National Power Corporation.

Consumers can observe this in the declining universal charges in the monthly bills.

Under the previous regime, another pivotal law, RA 1152, or the “Act Extending and Enhancing the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate”, extended the implementation of subsidies to poor households up to 2051.

Quick responses during calamities to revive the crucial electricity supply was achieved through the Energy Resiliency Policy which required all energy industry players to formulate and submit strategies, programs, and activities that would improve their infrastructure and systems, stockpiling mechanisms, as well as response and recovery measures.

The Task Force on Energy Resiliency was created to put the policy into effect.

Composed of members of energy agencies and industry stakeholders, the Task Force ensures effective preparedness, response, and restoration activities during calamities.

(To be continued)

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