Energy chief seeks release of IMEM fundsBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla is pushing for the immediate rollout of funds for the establishment of the Interim Mindanao Energy Market (IMEM), eyed as a measure that will help ease the worsening power supply situation in Mindanao.
On the sidelines of the Philippine Economic Briefing on Wednesday, Petilla said Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) had funds that could be used for the infrastructure requirements of IMEM. However, it has to secure the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission.
“The funds are there for PEMC. The problem is, we can’t touch it because we don’t have the ERC approval yet. We have stressed that to the ERC, and I’m quite sure they are aware of the problem in Mindanao. They are assuring PEMC that they will prioritize the approval of the budget,” Petilla said.
The energy chief is pushing for the approval of the fund release on Feb. 20, during the hearing for PEMC’s application for fund release.
Based on the application submitted earlier to the ERC, PEMC had earmarked P55 million to set up the IMEM. Of this amount, P34.26 million will come from the unused “market fees” that PEMC had collected from power generation firms that traded in the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) last year.
The IMEM was envisioned to serve as a venue for “transparent and efficient utilization of all available capacities particularly during periods wherein the contracted supply capacities of the load customers such as the distribution utilities and the industrial customers are not enough to meet their demand.”
It will also show the “true cost of electric power to encourage the dispatch and utilization of available power generating facilities.” The IMEM is expected to encourage investors to put up new generating capacities in Mindanao.
In view of the possible delay in the implementation of IMEM, Petilla said he was optimistic there would still be adequate power supply in the region by summer, especially during the elections, given the implementation of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).
Under the ILP, utilities or companies with embedded generators are urged to use their facilities to generate power instead of getting their supply from the main grid. The capacities they will be giving up can help boost supply for Mindanao.