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Senate to probe power supply outlook on polls

September 2, 2021

AS uncertainties in the power supply situation in the country persist, the Department of Energy (DOE) will be dragged into another Senate investigation where it is expected to present a definitive supply-demand scenario and lay down contingency measures in case the 2022 national elections will be marred with rotational blackouts.      Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has been giving pronouncements that “there will be no brownouts” in next year’s polling period, but Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian is less convinced.      Given apprehensions over the sufficiency of power supply next year, especially during the summer months that will coincide with the election period, the Senate energy committee deemed it prudent to call the DOE to come up with pre-emptive measures to avoid power interruptions on those critical periods.      “It is crucial that programs are already in place, taking into account all eventualities to guarantee continuous supply of electricity during the 2022 automated elections,” Gatchalian said.      Several groups have cast doubts on the authenticity of the power supply-demand outlook put into view by the DOE since there are still factors not integrated in its short-term energy planning – including the forced outages and de-rating of power plants; specific schedule of preventive maintenance of generating facilities; as well as the extent of gas restriction that will be experienced from the Malampaya field next year.      With such weak planning by the energy department, some stakeholders expressed fear of possible cheating during the election period. Such apprehension has been bolstered by the fact that the DOE Secretary serves as president of the ruling party PDP-Laban.      Cusi has also been criticized by various energy stakeholders for devoting more of his time on political affairs, instead of fixing the power supply mess that the DOE is supposed to prioritize because that is the agency’s core mandate.      As noted by Gatchalian, “We must ensure the credibility and transparency in the conduct of the elections as well as the delivery of fast and accurate results reflective of the genuine will of the people.”      The lawmaker reiterated that the current power supply-demand vista in the DOE forecasting — which is trying to paint a “no yellow or red alerts” happening in the system — is still sketchy, because “the outlook does not take into consideration the forced and unplanned outages of power plants and the declining supply from the Malampaya gas field.”      Gatchalian is reminding DOE that the rotational blackouts that happened last summer and even those in 2019, also an election year, had been mainly “attributed to the unplanned outages and de-rating of power plants.”      He further stressed that “power interruptions last summer happened despite earlier statements from the DOE that it was optimistic that the country will not encounter major challenges or any alerts that may result in insufficiency of supply.”

DUs asked to submit development plans

August 30, 2021

THE Department of Energy (DOE) is mandating all distribution utilities (DUs) to submit their updated Distribution Development Plan (DDP) that shall factor in supply-demand as well as load growth projections in their network; and for them to flesh out also the coverage of their power supply agreements.      In an advisory issued by Energy Undersecretary Emmanuel P. Juaneza, it was stipulated that the updated DDP shall cover the periods from 2021 to 2030; and that submission to the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau (EPIMB) of the department shall be this August for the private DUs as well as those who are operating power distribution systems in economic zones.      For the electric cooperatives (ECs), their updated DDPs shall first be furnished to the National Electrification Administration (NEA) by Aug 15; which in turn will submit it to the DOE by Aug 31 this year.      In the updated DDP, the energy department has instructed the DUs to include their “historical performance and forecasts of demand and energy requirement” within the stretch of the 10-year planning period.      The power utilities had been further instructed to provide details on their power supply procurement plans – including the portion of their targeted supply portfolio that are not yet covered by power supply deals.      Further, the DUs have been required to list down all the facilities they will be installing or constructing; and they must also provide details on the capacities of these assets to withstand extreme weather conditions, as well as their reliability capabilities when it comes to load network operations.      And given the prevailing Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) policy in the restructured power sector, the DUs will likewise need to demarcate their contestable customers or those who can already choose and can contract with their preferred power suppliers; vis-à-vis those who are still ‘captive’ or have remained in the service domain of the franchised DUs or electric cooperatives.      The other items required by the DOE in the development plans of the power utilities are those on: provision of service in unviable areas; installation of renewable energy and other emerging technologies in their service areas; deployment of energy efficiency technologies and other energy conservation measures that they have been introducing to their customers.      The DOE opined that the updating of the DDPs will be a “critical input in the overall economic and energy development planning at the national and local levels.”      From the distribution plans submitted by the power utilities, the energy department will have to craft the Power Development Plan (PDP) that will integrate all the plans and outlooks of the various segments of the power industry – including those from the power generation and transmission sub-segments.      The PDP, in turn, will be consolidated subsequently into the final Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) which factors in all the blueprints of investments, expansions as well as supply-demand outlooks of all sectors – including those in the upstream and downstream oil sector; as well as the ongoing and emerging innovations across industries.      The PEP is submitted annually to the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC), or the legislative oversight body for the energy sector, as anchored on the prescription of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

Investment in harm reduction, seen to benefit public health

August 27, 2021

Industry investments in non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes provide upside to new and existing players as well as public health, according to a fund manager that focuses on long-term, high-quality investments in the fast-moving consumer goods industry. “I think there's a lot of upside from industry investment in harm reduction, if we can move the discourse beyond that ‘Big Tobacco’ mental model and refocus the conversation on a more open-minded conversation and look at what consumers want,” U.K.-based Ash Park founder Jonathan Fell said.  Technology has led to the development of smoke-free nicotine alternatives such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and Swedish snus.  These devices are considered part of tobacco harm reduction, a strategy that aims to mitigate the impact of smoking on public health. An example of HTP is Philip Morris International’s IQOS. The heated tobacco device use a patented HeatControl™ Technology that precisely heats, without burning, tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper called HEETS™ to release a water-based aerosol. Unlike cigarettes, IQOS does not burn tobacco and therefore produces no smoke and no ash.  Last year, IQOS devices and HEETS were made available for adults 21 years old and above in the pilot area of Metro Manila. The online store recently expanded its coverage to include delivery of the heated tobacco device and heat sticks to key areas in Minadanao including Davao City, General Santos City, Palomok, Cagayan de Oro City, Opol, El Salvador, Tagoloan and Villanueva in Misamis Oriental. Prof. David Sweanor, advisory committee chair of the University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law and Policy in Canada, said technology has shaped the tobacco industry, as more consumers are switching to innovative nicotine products that are considered less harmful than combustible cigarettes.  “We see a tremendous number of consumers are very willing to move to these products, if the products are available, they have decent information.  And the global market for cigarettes is approaching a trillion US dollars a year with over a billion users,” said Prof. Sweanor. Prof. Sweanor has been actively involved in tobacco and health policy issues since the beginning of the 1980s and has worked globally, and with numerous groups, including the International Union Against Cancer, World Health Organization, World Bank and the Pan American Health Organization and played a key role in achieving many global precedents in tobacco policy. He now focuses much of his tobacco and nicotine related efforts on risk reduction strategies. He cited the need to study the tobacco industry as it undergoes a process of transformation. “I think we need to be studying the industry, we need to be looking at the new players, we need to understand this is a very dynamic situation.  And we need to try to shape that through intelligent regulation, through having an intelligent discourse to look at how did we transform other industries like what's going on with the automotive industry now, moving with the internal combustion engines?“ he said.  “You can see that the market is putting a much higher valuation on companies that are making that transition away from combustible products.  And of course, the companies and their executives notice that too and it's reflected in the incentive plans of a couple of them,” said Fell.  Prof. Sweanor posed questions that should be looked into to understand the transformation, “What happened to move from unsanitary to sanitary food, from snake oil to science-based pharmaceutical products?  How did we transform all these other industries?  What are the lessons in that for us?  And what can we do by understanding how this industry operates, but also understanding who's the industry?  What's the difference between companies that are selling tobacco products and companies that are selling alternative products?  What's the difference between cigarettes and non-combustible tobacco products?“ he said. He said, however, there remains a lot of misconception about alternative products.  “Much of mainstream tobacco control thought that vaping was a plot by Big Tobacco, these new evil geniuses, and it had to be attacked.  And the best thing we could do, would be to attack these alternative products. You're not recognizing what they were doing was really protecting the cigarette market, which is where these companies made massively higher profit margins on a sustainable basis.  So, it was a failure to grasp the reality of what's going on,” he said. According to Prof. Sweanor, the easiest way to incentivize the companies to transform and do more, is to stop banning the alternatives. “There's tremendous potential in all of these markets, you know, and anybody who thinks that new technology cannot be acceptable in low and middle income countries needs to understand what happened with smartphones.  I mean, just take away the bans, give an incentive for people to move in this direction,” he said. “So, the innovation is going to happen.  It's a question of do we try to turn that to the advantage of public health?  Do we have sensible regulatory regimes that help us reduce cigarette smoking more rapidly?“ Prof. Sweanor said. Ash Park manages the Ash Park Global Consumer Franchise funds.  Prior to 2013, Fell was team head of the consumer equity research group at Deutsche Bank in London, where he covered the tobacco and beverages sectors, following earlier spells at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.

Piñol, Bambi lead groundbreaking of Naawan community nursery

August 13, 2021

THE provincial government of Misamis Oriental headed by Governor Bambi Emano spearheaded two events last Wednesday, August 11.      Governor Bambi Emano in partnership with MSU- Naawan led the Ceremonial Signing of MOA for the Establishment of Community Based Tree Nursery Project amounting to P240,000.00 in Brgy. Sinalac, Initao, Brgy. Upper Malubog, Manticao, Brgy. Lubilan and Tagbalogo in Naawan which aims to address issues of unmet demand for seedlings and to expand agroforestry system for stability of food production, income and environment.      Alongside, Governor Bambi spearheaded the Launching of Naawan New Town Center and Groundbreaking of 3-Storey Multi-Purpose Building of Naawan worth P180,000,000.00.      Both events transpired in Brgy. Linangkayan, Naawan, Misamis Oriental which attended by Board Members Hon. Dexter Yasay, Hon. Gerardo Sabal III, Hon. Syremae Emano, Hon. Nancy Madjos along with them are PAGRO Head Jose Apollo Pacamalan, PAGRO-Agricultural Biosystem and Engineering Chief Engr. Evy Cabucos, Chancellor of MSU-Naawan Dr. Elnor Roa, Ph.D., LGU-Naawan Mayor Hon. Dennis Roa, Vice Mayor Hon. Jaime Roa, MinDA Chairperson Mr. Emmanuel Manny Pinol, Philippine Carabao Center Regional Director Mr. Lowell Paraguas, PhilFIDA Region 10 OIC Mr. Roques Pepito, NEWTECH Pulp Incorporation Managing Director Petra Bursian, DBP President Mr. Emmanuel Herbosa and Brgy. Captains of Naawan.      Hence, the minimum health standards were being observed in the said events. PIO

DOE warns of ‘thin supply’ in May polls

August 13, 2021

THE boom-and-bust cycle in the electric power industry will not likely spare the country’s May 9, 2022 elections from rotational blackouts following the Department of Energy’s (DOE) pronouncement that power supply within the polling period will be thin.      “For 2022, we see the thinning of supply on election day and thereafter,” Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella stated.      “That is why we are closely monitoring the situation; and we are coming up with more policies so that we can ensure that we have more supply.”      Even Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi cannot give a commitment to Congress during a hearing last month, July.      This early, the power distribution utilities and electric cooperatives indicated that they are already drawing up contingency measures – especially during the election period, given the fact that brownouts are often blamed as trigger to election cheating.      Already, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) has been mandating electric cooperatives to pursue a three-pronged approach when it comes to ensuring sufficient electricity supply during the election period – and that shall be until to the conclusion of the canvassing of votes.      NEA Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong pointed out “if there would be ‘lights out, we are actually addressing that with embedded generation to be installed with the electric cooperatives.”      By that, the NEA chief expounded that electric cooperatives can buy gensets to tie them over not just within the May 2022 election timeframe, but also for the whole duration of summer months next year.      “Especially for the ECs in Luzon, we can have embedded generation as a way to address the power crisis…so if there’s a projection for lights out, that will be the best option,”Masongsong stressed.      NEA Deputy Administrator Artis Nikki L. Tortola added that “the electric cooperatives, together with the NEA, are actually looking into several options and strategies in order for the coops to be spared from possible blackouts during summer months.”      The other short-term remedial measures that the ECs can employ, according to Masongsong, will be enabling the interruptible load program (ILP), or the process wherein they shall encourage customers with self-generating facilities to switch them on, so that grid supply can be eased and power interruptions can be minimized if not totally avoided.      “In the event that there’s really no capacity that will come in and ‘lights out’ are anticipated, the ECs can activate the ILP as an option…it will be a big help if the ILP will be appropriately tapped by the ECs,” the NEA chief specified.      Beyond that, he emphasized that an alternative could also be demand-side management; wherein power customers will have to be encouraged to practice energy efficiency and conservation in their energy usage.      The longer term fix, Masongsong noted, will be for the ECs to have sufficient supply contracting and for them to undertake their competitive selection process (CSP) before their power supply agreements (PSAs) will fall due.      “We have been calling all the ECs to review their power supply contracts with existing power suppliers and for them to undergo CSP as early as five years before the expiration of their contracts,” he said.

Non-combustible nicotine delivery technology can reduce 4M deaths, says expert

August 12, 2021

Up to 4 million deaths from smoking each year can be avoided with the advancement of non-combustible nicotine delivery technology, which encourages millions of smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives, according to a global health expert. The world is experiencing a revolution in nicotine delivery technology, as there are now more than a hundred million people using harm reduction products, said Dr. Derek Yach, president of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World said during the 8th Global Forum on Nicotine on June 18, 2021. “Projections suggest that if these tools were more widely available, we would be able to cut the long-term trends of deaths by maybe between 3 and 4 million, if we acted more vigorously,” Yach said. E-cigarettes or vapes, and heated tobacco products (HTPs), such as Philip Morris International’s IQOS are non-combustible nicotine delivery alternative. The IQOS system use a patented HeatControl™ Technology that precisely heats, without burning, tobacco-filled sticks wrapped in paper called HEETS™ to release a water-based aerosol. Unlike cigarettes, IQOS does not burn tobacco and therefore produces no smoke and no ash.  The device and heat sticks were made available last year for adults 21 years old and above in the pilot area of Metro Manila. The online store now also covers delivery of the device and heat sticks to key areas in Minadanao including Davao City, General Santos City, Palomok, Cagayan de Oro City, Opol, El Salvador, Tagoloan and Villanueva in Misamis Oriental. Yach noted the transformation of the tobacco industry from one that denied the damage caused by smoking on health in 1954 to its “pharmaceuticalization” today, supported by research and science. He said, however, that despite such changes made possible by investment in innovation, policy has lost touch with science.  “Industry has created tools that have the potential to create one of the most profound public health shifts in history.” “In short, the present technological revolution demands an accompanying ideological revolution.  Currently, many in tobacco control are skeptical, even hostile towards the contributions of industry. The origins of this hostility are not terribly difficult to identify... For generations, the tobacco industry has created products that have killed millions of people,” said Yach. He said that some tobacco executives and companies, in recognition of public desire for safe and nicotine options, began prioritizing research on harm reduction. “A few companies made a bet that investment in harm reduction will pay out in the long run. This was a shrewd business decision and incidentally, it's proving to be an excellent contribution to science and health. Though the transition to safer products remains incomplete, many tobacco companies have diverted resources away from combustibles and towards reduced risk portfolios,” he said. Yach said this gave rise to companies that are responding to consumers demand for nicotine products that are not deadly. “In many respects, the nicotine industry now functions in a manner, some say like pharmaceutical industry.  To be sure they're self-interested and profit driven.  At the same time, they are leaders in scientific innovation and essential to actually address massive health crisis,” he said. Yach said the other public health experts described the phenomenon as the tobacco industry’s actual and perceived transition into pharmaceutical-like industry through the manufacture and sale of non-combustible tobacco and nicotine products for smoking cessation or long-term nicotine maintenance. He said these companies are completing exhaustive studies to meet the scientific standards and rigor set by major regulatory bodies including the US Food and Drug Administration. “To satisfy the FDA's strict rules of evidence, tobacco and e-cigarette companies have conducted extensive peer review research and have disseminated these findings by a monograph report,” he said. “Industry must commit to ending the sale of combustible cigarettes and act accordingly through their investments. Industry must commit to ending youth nicotine use in all forms and there are many strategies that could be done to achieve that. Industry must commit to sharing IP (intellectual property) with companies and countries currently selling combustibles in lower middle-income countries to show that we make these products affordable and available to all. The WHO and governments must commit to revising the Framework Convention, which explicitly builds a risk proportionate regulatory system that doesn't require major changes to the text,” he said. “All of the above is feasible,” he said.  “From a scientific perspective, a lot of the hard work has already been done. What remains, then, is a bigger challenge—which is challenging and changing cultural and political attitudes.”


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