Voting 149-18, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading last week a resolution granting special powers to President Benigno Aquino III to address a possible energy crisis in 2015.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the measure was a safeguard meant to ensure that the country in general and Metro Manila in particular, would not suffer crippling power outages next year.
"We just want to play safe so the President will not be blamed later on [if a brownout occurs]. It's easy to say now that a brownout will not happen, but if it does occur, no one will get blamed except for the President," Belmonte said.
The House approved Joint Resolution 21 authorizing Malacanang to tap additional power generating capacity for the Luzon grid next year through the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), the speedy implementation of new committed projects and plants for interconnection and rehabilitation, and other energy efficient measures.
The ILP involves asking industrial users of electricity, such as factories and shopping malls, to use their own generator sets for certain periods between March and July of next year when the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) projects a shortfall in the supply of electricity.
Joint Resolution 21 was certified as urgent by the President. The House has transmitted it to the Senate for concurrence.
The grant of special powers to the President is based on Section 71 of Republic Act 9136, otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), which states that: "Upon determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity."
Under the joint resolution, relevant laws, rules and regulations including the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) Law, the Biofuels Act, the Clean Air Act, the Philippine Grid Code, the Philippine Distribution Code, and other “environmental and labor laws that may affect the operation and transmission of the contracted generation capacities” will be suspended for the period of March to July 2015.
The resolution indicated a maximum projected supply shortfall of 1,004 megawatts (MW) for certain weeks during the summer months next year, of which 600 MW is needed to meet the required dispatchable reserve, while 404 MW is needed to meet the required contingency reserve.
The contingency reserve is equivalent to the load of the highest online power plant while the dispatchable reserve are offline plants equivalent to the highest online power plant that can be turned on when power supply falls.