Energy Emergency: The Big Picture

Many have raised the red flag when Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes admitted that a power shortage looms in 2010. The fears: 1) a possible failure of election in May cause by blackouts; and 2) President Arroyo getting emergency powers to fix such a problem, and in the process, abusing these emergency powers with the intent of staying longer.

At this point, the second scenario is very far-fetched. For starters, it would be Congress — the House and the Sentate — that would give these privileges to President Arroyo.   Trust the Senate at least to make sure that should there be a need to give emergency powers, it will limit the powers it will give the President.

Surely, a failure of elections would spell catastrophe.  Still, what should be given much or even more attention is what Reyes has said: a power shortage looms in 2010 — whether it is an election year or not!

Remember the power shortage during the twilight of Cory’s term?  We cannot afford to have the same shortage again.  This is where the real emergency is.

The question now is how fast the government can act to avert the energy crisis.  Present developments and trends do not sound very encouraging.  Reyes himself said that the Department of Energy needs at least P1.7-B.  What is strange is that the DOE was not able to include this in their proposed budget.

Also factor in the very bad track record of past Congresses in approving the budget on time, if at all.

One also cannot help but wonder what the DOE has been doing these past several years to solve the problem.  As early as six years ago, the DOE as well as several lawmakers and business leaders have anticipated a new energy crisis.  What have they been doing all this time?

On the bright side, at least, there may be no need to construct new power plants.  There may be no time anymore.  What is needed is for the government to increase the capacity of power plants.

In the meantime, the House and the Senate should be pushed to allocate enough funds to ensure that a crisis is averted.  Otherwise, a failure of elections will indeed happen — and much more.

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