by: Andrea Jobelle Adan

A year has raced its way past us since President Aquino’s 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA). Salvage and make ends meet – this was the mission set upon the shoulders of the Departments of Energy (DOE) and Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) on the July 22, 2013 speech.

Though the call for resolutions is urgent, Aquino acknowledged that the road to triumph will be a lengthy one. “From the very beginning, we have been working on a solution for this—but we are also aware that a problem that has been ignored for an entire decade cannot be solved overnight,” he admitted. Nonetheless, the DOE has been implementing remedies to thwart, if not lessen, the blow of energy deficiency in our country.

Our countrymen are tired of seeing band aid after band aid put upon the deep wounds of our energy insufficiency. Accordingly, the DOE along with the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) delved into long-term planning strategies for our country’s power sector. Under their scrutiny was the Australian Energy Market Operation (AEMO), which is known for its integration of Renewable Energy (RE) in the market.

Renewable energy has long since been debated upon. Aquino himself publicized his opinion on this during his fourth SONA saying, “I believe in renewable energy and we support its use, but there should also be baseload plants that can ensure a steady supply of electricity for our homes and industries.”

But these energy plants do not sprout like mushrooms.It will take years to serve the growing need for energy. The country’s growing economy is squeezing every last drop from the energy reservoirs.

It would be disastrous if ways will not be implemented to stop the river that is our energy from running dry. Thus, “Kapag maiksi ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot.”

In line with this, there have been conferences about energy-efficient technologies as well as simple day-to-day practices that contribute to this.

The DOE, in association with the Japan Business Alliance for Smart Energy Worldwide (JASE-W), ASEAN-Centre for Energy (ACE) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Japan (METI), hosted a conference which introduced energy efficient technologies that targeted to boost the implementation of energy efficiency in the building industry.

“The best way to avoid building more power plants is to focus on energy efficiency,” energy secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said.
These gizmos which include heat pump technology, energy-efficient chiller application and other “green” products from Japan come to the rescue. Net metering is also on the rise.

But these technical terms tend to make the public apprehensive. Fear not then, for DOE, along with other stakeholders, launched a guide for the public known as the Net Metering Reference Guide. The guide is an essential for everyone who’s interested in availing solar roof tops and other renewable energy (RE) installations for own electricity consumption. It is an ultimate step-by-step reference to becoming your very own energy producer which includes permitting procedures, investment computations and the like.

Under the rules of net-metering, a qualified residential or commercial consumer is permitted to set up facilities that promote the use of RE such as solar roof panels as long as it does not exceed 1oo kilowatts. This move aims to banish the days when heads of the household tremble at the very sight of an electric bill; truly, every Filipino’s fantasy has come alive.

To further prove the innovations it can give, the guide also includes a simulated electric bill of a net-metering user who saves a total of Php 2,244.36 per month. The benefits are not merely enclosed upon the four walls of the home or the industry; it extends to the whole country.

In these changing times, we must adapt in order to survive. True enough, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje reminds us, “There is nothing we could do but adapt to climate change and the only way we could be prepared for it is to accept that these recent developments in our country like intense weather disturbances, heavy rainfall, and long dry seasons are now the ‘new normal.”

When life throws problems at you, turn them into solutions.

Our country has been battered by storms one too many. Then, after floods that swept so many, the draught that seems from a thousand suns begins to batter the people. In order to solve this, Paje fully supports creating more water catchments in upstream locations of the country.

“Rainwater can be managed as a resource if it is captured upstream and use it during summer for agriculture,” Paje said. This will alleviate the yearly damage brought about by storms plus, it will aid the farmers in having a more fruitful harvest.
However, this is only supplementary in carrying out the widespread reforestation under the Aquino administration’s National Greening Program.

The DENR has also taken steps to ensure the protection of aquatic treasures such as the Coral Triangle which contains a third of the world’s total coral reefs. In view of that, a coastal cleanup was held where an alarming 1.3 million kilograms of trash were removed from the shoreline, inland waterways and even underwater by volunteers.

This year’s local theme, “Bayanihan Para sa Malinis na Karagatan,” and the international theme “Working for Clean Beaches and Clean Water,” cries out so much about volunteerism and the need for a united drive. But the countrymen did not disappoint as the Philippines remains one of the top countries with the number of volunteers falling second only to the United States.

But as Paje emphasized, it would be better if we were known not only for the great number of volunteers, but also for the lessening of the trash picked up. According to the World Bank’s Philippine Environment Monitor of 2003, tracked losses due to water pollution cost about P56 billion annually. More than a thousand families would be driven up the poverty line if the country comes together to put a stop to such.

To further broaden the country’s efforts for a cleaner and environmental state, DENR has also conducted searches for eco-friendly learning institutions. They aimed to instill into the minds of the country’s hope that our ecosystem is not something to be abused.

As the year has gone, many changes have occurred and much more changes are expected to happen. The Filipino’s ears have gone numb from promises. What the people need are evident results that the “Sick Man of Asia” has really come to vitality. And it is for the head of the state to lead them to a day when talk of adapting to shortened blankets has come to a stop.


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