Cebu’s challenge: Beat energy crisis

Next to water, electrical power is one of the critical area in an fast-growing community like Cebu. I always put water on top because it is a very basic need.

Rotating brownouts

This week, some areas in Cebu experienced power outages. Cebu Daily News reported on May 20 that the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) imposed rotating brownouts […] to cope with the power shortage. The day after, Sun.Star Cebu ran a head-turner news lead: More brownouts, DOE says.

In recent months, Cebu had experienced rotational brownout. It pained many organizations especially the small businesses.

The rotational brownout sparked the discussion on how to address the looming power crisis. Questions were raised, do we need to build more fossil-powered plant? Do we need to build nuclear power plant in Cebu?

Discussions in local media were often fruitful but most often overshadowed by talks on politics.

Multi-sectoral discussion on mitigating power crisis

Recently, in Cebu, a multi-sectoral discussion on how to beat crisis was held (April 30 at Marriott Hotel). The discussion aimed to gather key opinion and resource persons in Cebu business community and the government sector to express their views, opinions, and insights about the current energy crisis and on how we can lessen its impact.

The discussion was initiated by Schneider Electric represented by Philippe Reveilhac, country president of the company in the Philippines. Schneider Electric spearheaded the discussion to actively involved in informing and educating consumers and business community on the importance of energy efficiency and management as viable tool to lessen the impact of energy crisis.

Among the participants were representatives from various groups, sectors, and companies – most notable were, Nestor Archival who represented the Cebu City Council; Wilson Ng of Mandaue Chamber of Commerce; Dondi Joseph of Cebu Business Club; Carlos Co of Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

Adequate power supply in Cebu

Cebu power has stabilized! Although I mentioned earlier that there was power outages last week, it was relatively small compared to power outages in the last quarter of 2009 and early weeks of the first quarter in 2010.

In February 2010, Manila Bulletin report, the Department of Energy (DoE) in Region 7 announced the full operation of Unit I of the Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) coal-fired power plant in Toledo City, which has a power generation capacity of 82 megawatts (MW) could stabilize the Cebu energy requirement. True enough! Other power plants are on the final stage of development and would contribute additional power to Cebu.

This is a good news to every Cebuano. However, the looming energy crisis has not faded away. From 2010 to the next five years, Cebu can be assured of adequate power supply. However, considering Cebu’s growth rate, it is projected that another power plants must be operational in 2015.

The crucial role of the government

During the Schneider Electric-led multi-sectoral discussion, participants agree that the government has crucial role in mitigating the power shortages. Cebu City councilor Nestor Archival informed that the city actually lay out some plans on power sourcing and on spearheading campaign to save power.

The use of solar-powered street lamps was mentioned. In my recent vacation in Mindanao, I saw a number of solar-powered street lights. It’s a good project because have them means less cost on the part of the government. And environment-friendly, too! Mindanao is largely powered by hydro-power – so it must be friendly to environment.

The utilization of whatever renewable energy is one of the best move so that we lessen our heavy reliance on fossil-powered plants.

This is the point that I would like to give emphasis. While there is an effort on the part of the government and the private investors to source for additional power supply (like building more power plants), an active participation among residential and industrial users is also a crucial factor. Power end-users must learn to save!

I am not sure if the government requires building and other edifices to implement power-saving designs and architecture. I believe the government encourages that. In addition to this, the government might also implement reward system to those institutions, government units or companies that implement effective power-saving designs or programs. These important points were discussed by participants.

Synchronize efforts

All sectors in the community need to synchronize efforts to better manage energy. There must be an active participation among institutions down to the grassroots level. Yes, energy management is not the sole responsibility of the the power providers and the government but also a responsibility of the smallest energy user.

Just imagine if all families in Cebu know how to effectively use electricity and conserve power, perhaps we could save several tons of coal each year.

How would you effectively use electricity at home? Do you exert some efforts to save some watts at home?

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