Solon seeks probe on arbitrary reduction of solar power allocation

A lawmaker is calling for a congressional inquiry into the alleged
reduction by the Department of Energy (DOE) of the capacity of solar
photovoltaic (PV) power plants to only 50 megawatts (MW) from the
initial 235 MW under the Renewable Energy Law.

In filing House Resolution 1785, Rep. Florencio Flores, Jr. (2nd
District, Bukidnon) said the inquiry intends to shed light on the
issue and resolve the problems brought about by said move of the DOE.

“The DOE and the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) should explain
to the House Committee on Energy as to the rationale for the drastic
reduction they made in the capacity of solar PV power plants for
initial implementation under Republic Act 9513 or the Renewable Energy
Act of 2008,” Flores said.

According to Flores, the DOE reduced the initial capacity of 269 MW
for solar PV power plants to only 235MW until 2015 as recommended by
the NREB on the very day the National Renewable Energy Program was
launched on June 14, 2011.

Flores said the DOE submitted to the Energy Regulatory Commission
(ERC) during the hearing on the petition for Feed-in-Tariffs held in
Davao City on September 16, 2011, that only 50 megawatts of solar PV
power plants will be initially implemented.

“However, after the launching of the NREP, the DOE has been reducing,
for reasons known only to people within the DOE, the capacity for
initial implementation of solar PV projects,” Flores said.

Flores said among the available alternatives for constructing power
plants in Mindanao, solar PV plants are the fastest to attain
operational status.

“It would take only one year or less to construct 100 MW or more of
solar PV power plants spread out all over Mindanao.  It would take
more than one year to construct the next fastest alternative,
oil-fueled power plants,” Flores said.

Flores said the rate of impact to the end consumer if 100MW of solar
power capacity would be added to the Mindanao grid would only come to
around 2.28 centavos per kilowatt-hour compared to P0.60-1.00 per kWh
for oil-fueled power plants, increasing with the number of hours per
month that the power plants would operate.

Flores said there is now a shortage of power capacity in Mindanao
resulting in power customers being under threat of frequent and
widespread brownouts whenever any of the large power plants now in
operation suffers unscheduled outage.

“Solar power offers the fastest option to the power crisis in Mindanao
which needs to add at least 200 MW to the existing capacity of power
plants within one year in order to avert rotating brownouts that would
put hundreds of thousands of customers in the dark over long periods
of time,” Flores said.

Flores said to avert a power crisis in Mindanao, the DOE should
allocate at least 100 MW of solar PV for initial implementation in
Mindanao under RA 9513 and ask ERC to expedite hearings on the FIT
petition so it could be implemented before the end of 2011 to
facilitate the construction of at least 100MW of solar PV plants in
Mindanao within one year from the approval of the FIT by the ERC.

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