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Why DOE is urging Pinoy households to use solar energy in beating 2015 power crisis

St scholastica

The Department of Energy is encouraging Filipinos to use solar energy for household needs as the Philippines scrambles to stave off an energy crisis come summer of 2015.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla is promoting the use of solar energy in private homes, not only to help avert a looming power crisis but also to help the Philippines achieve energy efficiency.

"If they generate their own electricity, customers will now be more conscious and involved in managing their electricity consumption," the Energy chief said Thursday.

"As a simple example, the cost of electricity from a coal plant can run up to P5.50 per kilowatt hour, plus P6.50 for distribution and transmission, which amounts to P12.00. If you install solar panels on your rooftop, you will only spend P9.00 per kilowatt hour for generation and no cost for distribution or transmission. This already saves you up to P3 per kilowatt hour," Petilla said.

Last July, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla recommended that the President declare a state of national emergency on power to avoid rolling outages from a power supply shortage estimated between 300 and 500 megawatts (MW).

Benefits from renewable energy

Under the Philippine Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008, residential and commercial consumers can install on-site RE technology – like solar panels – but not exceeding 100 kilowatts (kW) to generate their own electricity.

If the consumer has excess electricity from the RE facility, the RE user must sell that power to the distribution utility's (DU) system, which could reflect as a deduction in the monthly bill.

Petilla acknowledged the fact that the infrastructure needed to harness RE is expensive but it only entails a one-time cost to put up the facility.

"Also, private citizens can actually benefit more for own-use of RE such as solar, wind and biomass in self-generation of electricity for their own use," he said.

"Because RE is indigenous, which means it is locally available, we can depend on it for energy security even if there are political issues such as war in other countries," the Energy secretary added.

Currently, 70 percent of the Philippines' generating capacity comes from traditional sources like coal and diesel while 30 percent is from RE, mostly from geothermal and hydropower plants.

However, the country also imports 90 percent of its fuel requirements, making it susceptible to fluctuating global prices and the looming threats to energy crisis.