Further energy-conservation calls go out as El Niño sets in

Further energy-conservation calls go out as El Niño sets in

THE Department of Energy (DoE) said households and the business sector need to do their part in conserving energy and accelerating their energy efficiency in response to El Niño.

“We need the support of everyone, and must therefore be conscious in our use of electricity,” Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said in a statement on Wednesday.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has asked the public to create a culture of responsible usage of electricity “as power supply projections may still change, even if we have adequate projections” due to the dry spells expected at the height of El Niño.

PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), the government weather service, forecasts a moderate El Niño, possibly intensifying in the coming months.

Mr. Lotilla said that the DoE’s executive committee and agencies agreed to map out vital infrastructure that could be affected by the shortage of electricity.

These include hospitals, blood banks, banks, and water pumping stations.

“In the case of the health sector, while the Department of Health will be providing generator sets for government hospitals, there are also hospitals maintained by provinces and local government units. The local governments could help us identify these critical facilities for efficient intervention,” Mr. Lotilla said.

Separately, Mr. Lotilla said the action taken by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) allowing banks to expand financing for sustainable energy projects will attract investment.

“These would entail big investments where private sector funds, including equity investments, green bonds or loans will be needed. We are therefore pleased with this development noting that clean energy investments over the next decade will be carried out by the private developers,” he said.

In a statement over the weekend, the BSP said it approved a 15% increase in the single-borrower limit on loans for eligible green or sustainable projects.

The central bank noted the projects should be compliant with environmental laws.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lotilla also welcomed a Board of Investments decision to offer income tax holidays for own-use renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, as well as duty exemptions on imports of capital equipment, raw materials, spare parts, or accessories.

“This would certainly aid energy efficient projects which will ultimately redound to the benefit of consumers. The tax incentives will result in increased economic activity and the potential to generate more jobs,” Mr. Lotilla said. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera