Philippine energy conservation program saves 28 M barrels of oil

Baguio, north Philippines (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippines' national energy conservation program saved the equivalent of 27.48 million barrels of fuel last year, an 11 percent increase compared to the previous year's savings, a regional official of the Department of Energy said.

Despite the higher world fuel prices this year, the country's conservation program can improve even further because consumers would not likely splurge while petroleum prices continue to rise, said Efren Balaoing, DOE Luzon field office director.

"That's the silver lining. People will conserve energy more," Balaoing said on the sidelines of a household electricity conservation seminar at the city hall here on Tuesday.

On Saturday, the city government closed a portion of downtown Session Road to vehicular traffic for the city's Earth Hour countdown. Non-governmental organizations and the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) also organized an Earth Hour event at the Baguio City jail.

Balaoing said last year's energy savings improved from the 2010 results of the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program, which saved 24.8 million barrels of fuel oil equivalent. Based on the agency's July 2011 records, government agencies managed to save 1.8 billion pesos (US$41.9 million) which could have been spent on their energy consumption, he said.

Awareness of the impact of a changing climate also shaped the energy efficiency programs of 59 companies, resulting in savings equivalent to 91.97 million liters of fuel worth 3.6 billion pesos ($83 million) in 2011, Balaoing said.

He said the consumers' ability to control energy use could help ease worries about a potential energy crisis because of how people anticipate the impact of the power outages in Mindanao on the rest of the country.

Balaoing said DOE was helping develop 20 new hydroelectric power projects in the Cordilleras, a natural cluster of upland watersheds, to supplement the electricity supply generated by existing power plants.

But coal-fired power plants remain the cheaper option for the government, he said.

To date, a kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by coal-fired plants sells for as low as 5 pesos ($.11), compared to the 6.15 pesos ($.14) per kWh of power generated by hydroelectric plants, Balaoing said.

DOE, he said, is aware of the objections raised against coal-fired plants by environmental groups. "But the technology is now safer," he added.

DOE has to process 30 coal mining projects to fuel these power plants, which would require a total of 2.2 billion pesos ($51.2 million) in investments, Balaoing said.

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