Zubiri seeks equal sharing of P2B renewable energy fund

THE P2-billion public trust fund meant to support the development of renewable energy resources should be equally shared between Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, former Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said.

“The money should be distributed evenly, with the three main island groups sharing equally. This will ensure the balanced countrywide development of new energy sources that are naturally replenished,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri authored the Renewable Energy Law of 2008, which put up a P2-billion fund to partly subsidize new power generators that use sunlight, wind, rain, tides, geothermal heat, and biomass or biofuels.

The money may be used to provide project grants, loans, equity investments, credit guarantees, insurance, or counterpart funding, according to Zubiri, former chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources.

He said Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao should enjoy the equal opportunity to benefit from the fund.

“In the future, Filipinos in one island group should not have to pay a higher price for their electricity, or have less supply of it, just because government failed to develop renewable energy resources in that part of the country,” Zubiri said.

The former senator from Bukidnon made the statement as Mindanao continued to reel from brownouts due to a power shortage.

According to National Grid Corp. data as of June 16, Mindanao has an available capacity of only 1,138 megawatts versus system peak demand of 1,191 MW, or a gross deficit of 53 MW.

The five-percent shortfall means that Mindanao does not have any gross operating reserve, or extra capacity available to meet demand in case a generator goes down, or there is any supply disruption due to periodic upkeep on a generator, Zubiri said.

In contrast, Luzon has an available capacity of 8,088 MW versus system peak of 6,582 MW, or a 23 percent gross operating reserve of 1,506 MW.

Visayas has an available capacity of 1,816 MW versus system peak of 1,368, or a 33 percent gross operating reserve of 448 MW.

The Renewable Energy Law seeks to lessen national dependence on fossil and mostly imported fuels, which has made consumers and the economy extremely vulnerable to global market price fluctuations of crude oil and coal.

Government hopes to double the electricity generated by renewable energy from 4,500 megawatts to 9,000 MW over the next 10 years.

The P2-billion renewable energy fund is being supported by emission fees from generating facilities under the Clean Air Act, and 1.5 percent of the annual net incomes of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

The fund is also being backed by 1.5 percent of the annual net dividends remitted by the Philippine National Oil Co. to the National Treasury, and 1.5 percent of royalties from the exploitation of natural gas and other indigenous non-renewable energy sources.

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