Power and utility costs contributed significantly to the upward price pressures in recent months, lifting inflation rate to above target. Despite the tempering of prices in November, the high cost of electricity still kept inflation higher than expected.
Aware of this predicament, the government, through the Department of Energy (DoE), along with other partnered agencies, have been on the constant roll to reduce price pressures arising from the power sector.
Earlier this year, plans such as rehabilitating the long-dormant Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), had been hinted by the Duterte administration to address the persistent issue of high energy rates.
As the government continues to channel its efforts in relieving the plight of higher power and utility costs, a shift to alternative and renewable sources, such as hydropower, is also being eyed by the administration as evidenced by its recent involvements in such a move.
Earlier, a hydropower plant coupled with a water-treatment facility broke ground in Mindanao.
Dubbed as the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project (DCBWSP), the project is seen to improve water services in the city, finally relieving the local community of both their water and power problems.
The DCBWSP was initiated by the Apo Agua Infrastructura Inc. (Apo Agua), a joint venture company between the Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. and J. V. Angeles Construction Corporation.
In addition, this development was expected to benefit around 295,000 households in the city by delivering a massive volume of 300 million liters of safe water per day once the project becomes fully operational.
Led by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 26 November, the Chief Executive fully supported the initiative as he underscored the necessity of safe water access to every Filipino.
“I always believe that access to safe drinking water is a fundamental right that must be enjoyed by every Filipino family, so that they live healthy, dignified and productive lives,” the President said.
“I look forward to the timely completion of the water treatment facilities, so that the people of Davao may enjoy its benefits at the least possible time,” he added.
Moreover, Apo Agua General Manager Ones Almario assured that the project, the water treatment facility in particular, in no way would be harmful to the environment as various measures will be in place, such as tree planting and educating the residents around the area.
“We will be partnering with the Water Management Council in terms of the protection of the watershed, as well as conduct activities such as tree planting and providing education to areas near the plant (facility),” Almario said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said earlier the government also has plans of boosting the Agus System that was powered by the Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City.
“We are also investing quite a bit of money probably close to half a billion US dollars in refurbishing the Agus system,” Dominguez explained.
“That (Agus System) currently is running at only 40 percent capacity. We will bring that up to something like 88.5 percent capacity,” he added, noting that it will help lower electricity costs.
A nuclear rebirth
In addition to hydropower, the Finance chief noted that should plans to revive the country’s sole nuclear power plant be brought into fruition, significant cuts on power costs could be expected.
“With regards the cost of electricity, we should really seriously consider running the nuclear plant,” Dominguez told reporters, citing the country’s exact sister nuclear plant in Slovenia, which has been running for almost 50 years without problems.
“It is probably the asset that we will use to lower the cost of electricity,” he hinted.
Earlier, Rosatom, a Russian nuclear energy corporation, said the rehabilitation of the BNPP is possible despite decades of disuse as BNPP had been completed but never fueled as issues on its safety surfaced.
“Our experts believe that if desired it is possible to rehabilitate the nuclear power plant,” Rosatom Vice President for Southeast Asia Egor Simonov said. “We conducted thorough inspection with the participation of the best specialists in atomic energy sphere, not only from Russia.”
Moreover, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi shares this wisdom in reviving the BNPP because of concerns regarding high electricity cost despite the actions already undertaken to mitigate price pressures.
Cusi also announced in the latter part of this year the development of a green energy efficiency strategy, which seeks to promote available energy efficiency measures that could be implemented in the design, construction and operation of government building projects.
“This is a good opportunity for our government agencies to learn more about the concept of green buildings and its increasing role in our country’s energy future,” Cusi said.
“Imagine the amount of savings we would generate if all government buildings were built and operated with energy efficiency as a major consideration,” he added.