Filipinos optimistic of good year ahead

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According to Gallup International, Filipinos are staying positive this year, confirming survey results by the Social Weather Stations that Filipinos carry a positive mindset, with nine out of every 10 Filipinos welcoming 2019 with high hopes. I share the same positive outlook of Filipinos for the year despite a challenging road ahead.

In my last column, I stressed that a stronger economy looms this year. But government needs to continue to stay focused on instituting relevant economic reforms.

The country is off to a strong start. Just two weeks at the onset of 2019, positive investment news was revealed by Bloomberg, saying Philippine stocks are among the world’s best performers right now. As if on cue, the PSEi quickly climbed on the third day of trading, bringing gain to 4.5 percent. BDO Unibank predicts index hitting 8,000 in the coming days.
These are good news for the Philippines and our national economy as a whole. But the big question is how does this translate and benefit the public? And what good news can a typical household expect to begin the year?

One great news that consumers would like to hear is lower utility rates. And that is what Meralco has announced early this year as power rates decreased in January to P9.8385 per kWh, compared to last month’s P10.1803 per kWh. The downward adjustment of P0.3418 per kWh will mean consumers will save around P68 for every 200kWh electricity consumption in their monthly bill — a significant savings for households.

Since April last year, electricity rates have registered a net decrease of P0.71 per kWh. This is a big relief to consumers, helping them to alleviate their monthly expenses.

For an ordinary consumer, the main concern is to be able to pay their power bills. But what triggered the decrease? A major factor was the lower generation charge due to the reduction in capacity fees of generation companies, as a result of the annual reconciliation of outage allowances as stipulated under their ERC-approved power supply agreement (PSA).

The reduction in capacity fees of generation companies represents savings immediately passed on to consumers via lower electricity rates. However, capacity fees from PSA are expected to return to normal levels after the downward adjustment this month. Hence, while there is a steep decrease in power rates for January, the price levels of electricity are projected to normalize in the months ahead.

While lower power rates translate to significant savings to consumers, it is vital for consumers to adopt a culture of energy efficiency. Energy efficiency tips are available to help them save on their monthly electricity consumption, and do their share to promote a green environment. These tips can be downloaded from Meralco’s official website.

For other distribution utilities and electric cooperatives, I am assuming they have their own information initiatives as well on energy efficiency.

In the coming summers months, energy efficiency will become especially crucial. Typically, demand increases during this period due to the heat and higher temperatures (meaning longer use of cooling devices like air-cons).

With a fast-growing economy given the growth path and burgeoning business environment, the country will be needing an estimated 600MW additional capacity every year to reach the projected power supply demand of 43 gigawatts by 2040. Indeed, there is an urgency to construct new power plants to meet these targets.

Unfortunately, many of our existing baseload power plants are aging. Most of them would be 15 years older by that time, and about a big portion of that would be 20 years and above. We need to ensure our power plants are reliable and they are operating as expected.

Here’s hoping that the leaders of our country see the bigger picture for the sake of the Filipinos hoping for a better life. The train that is taking us to a strong growth path has started and we need power to ensure it continues running on the tracks.

What are your thoughts?

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