Thursday, August 21, 2014

Energy, water bill of gov’t offices to rise to P13 B Recto files “Green Energy Government Offices Act”

MANILA-With the national government coughing up more than a billion pesos a month for electricity and water in its offices, calls for conserving utility use in the bureaucracy have been aired anew in the Senate.  

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said one way of cutting the annual P12.9 billion power and water bill of the national government is for public buildings to be installed with solar panels.

“When it comes to use of renewable energy, government must practice what it preaches,” Recto said. The Senate President Pro Tempore last week filed the proposed “Green Energy Government Offices Act” which prescribes measures to reduce carbon footprint of government buildings.

Recto’s bill requires two agencies - the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Energy (DOE) - to spearhead the installation of not only green energy systems in public buildings but also the popularization of practical energy conservation guides.

“Conservation is always a mix of the high-tech and the common sense,” he said.

Recto made the proposal after noting that utility expenses of the government have been on a steady rise, from P8.4 billion in 2011 to the projected P12.9 for 2015, which is the amount proposed in the P2.6 trillion draft national budget.

“If your utilities bill will go up by P4.5 billion in just four years, then you have to plan some cost-cutting,” he said.

This year, the allocated amount for utilities is P12.2 billion, but Recto said that going by the historical record, the amount set aside is always breached.

“In 2012, for example, while national budget documents reported an expenditure of P9.2 billion for utilities, actual amount spent according to the Commission on Audit was P11.1 billion,” Recto said.

Of this amount, P8.8 billion was for electricity, P2.2 billion was for water, and about P67 million was for cooking gas, the latter mostly by hospitals and camps of the uniformed services.

“The ratio is that for every 1 peso national government allocates for utilities, 80 centavos goes to power, and the rest mostly to water,” Recto said.

Explaining that P12.9 billion proposed for utilities covers national government offices only, Recto said the actual bill is way higher if utility expenses of local governments and government corporation are included.

While Recto called for a reduction of the energy use in public offices, he, however, called for “higher electricity consumption in one particular area  – on the streets where the installation of more street lights to deter crimes and prevent traffic accidents is clearly justified.”

In batting for solar energy use in his bill, Recto cited the DOE’s renewable energy assessment where it estimated solar’s annual potential average at 5.1 kilowatt-hour (kWh)/m2/day.

“Solar energy represents fuel input that is free-of-charge and will not affect our foreign currency reserves as imported petroleum and other fossil fuels do,” Recto stressed in his bill. 

The senator said placing more government buildings under solar power would create job opportunities.

He said “the current $800 million in direct investments in renewable energy in the country is expected to create 3,500 new jobs.” 


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