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Asean Power Grid proposed

Energy ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations envision an interconnected regional power system in the region, in line with the expected increase in demand for power to support the Asean Economic Community.

The recent 32nd Asean Ministers of Energy meeting in Vientiane cited the need for the establishment of an Asean Power Grid, starting with the conduct of studies on fuel security, taxation, private sector participation and Asean transmission system operator as well as the creation of an Asean generation and transmission planning group.

In a joint statement, they called for concerted effort to achieve interconnected regional power systems to ensure sustainability of energy resources.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the vision of an Asean energy market integration was laudable but more work should be done, especially in case of the Philippines which is an archipelago.

“In a sense, we have a free market that will make transaction easier in Asean countries. In terms of upstream, it’s a plus if business can be made easier, it can be made cheaper. For power, talks will still focus on fuel supply, how tax barriers can be overcome. The bottom line is, it would be difficult for us to interconnect because we are primarily islands. I don’t if in my lifetime we can interconnect with Asia,” Petilla said.

Mylene Capongcol, director of the Energy Department’s Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, said a part of the Asean integration is to implement the proposed Asean Power Grid and cross-border power trading.  

“In general, we support the overall objective of establishing and operationalizing the Asean Power Grid.  The cross-border interconnection of member-economies would hasten and further optimize the utilization and sharing of energy resources to promote energy security and reliability within and among Asean member-economies,” Capongcol said.

She said there should be generous sharing of relevant information deemed critical in attaining the Asean Power Grid particularly on the current and long-term power supply and demand outlook, including any existing or proposed power generation projects, new policies and programs in the electricity industry, current and any proposed changes in the electricity sector.

A report by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies reflected Capongcol’s concerns, noting that the pathway to Asean energy market integration should involve “trust building activities” among Asean members.

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