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    Posted March 26, 2014 by

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    Master plan for power crisis in Phl sought

    SENATOR Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Wednesday asked the Department of Energy for a master plan to end more than five years of suffering for the people of Southern Philippines because of recurrent power outages and extended blackouts.
    Pimentel said the master plan should secure a long-term remedy to the power problem, not just band aid solutions that have failed to address the power woes, made worse by undersupply and high costs of electricity.
    He said industry experts saw the need to rehabilitate aging hydropower plants, put up new generating companies, ensure reliability of transmission lines and secure efficiency of power distributors to prevent the outages.
    The senator said foreign investors are interested in upgrading existing power plants and build new generators, but there is no clear roadmap to off-takers, some of whom have taken a wait-and-see attitude.
    He said the DOE should review its policies, simplify its business permits and licensing system to reduce the voluminous documents and offer fresh incentives to attract more industry players instead of putting stumbling blocks.
    Pimentel said under the deregulation law, the national government has to take the lead to ensure enough power supply and strictly regulate the operations of companies that produce, transmit and supply electricity to homes, offices and factories.
    He also endorsed proposals to strengthen the "market power" of electric cooperatives by allowing them to pool their resources together to enable them to attain economies of scale and improve production efficiencies.
    He said the continuing outages would force business to slow down or close shops, dislocate vital public services, annoy millions of residents who will be forced to live with daily brownouts, and scare away tourists from visiting Mindanao.
    Pimentel said the region's chronic power shortages were identified by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as the "most binding constraints" to region's economic growth and development.
    He said power supply is a major driver to make the rich but underdeveloped region a robust business hub in the near future.
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