By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A BALANCE between immediate power needs and the environment must be observed in addressing the looming power shortage in Iloilo City and the rest of Western Visayas.

Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said he understands the immediate need of Iloilo City for additional and stable sources of power as regards the proposed coal-fired power plant in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

“We have to balance two things – energy that is needed immediately because the city is suffering from brownouts and the protection of the environment,” Zubiri said at the sidelines of the regional congress for renewable energy at Amigo Terrace Hotel Friday.

The neophyte senator, who is at the forefront of the Renewable Energy Law, said he understands “the need of the city for power now, not tomorrow.”

“No investments will come in the city without stable power,” he said.

But Zubiri is hoping that Panay will start tapping renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, wave, geothermal and hydropower.

“We have to discover these renewable sources of energy because I believe that we have lots of potentials here. We can even transform the city’s trash into energy,” Zubiri said.

Citing the volatile oil prices in the global market, Senator Edgardo Angara, who also attended the congress, urged investors to invest in renewable energy.

Angara and Zubiri are the proponents of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

Angara said the Visayas region will be the first to experience power shortage in year 2009, “the Mindanao area will likewise experience power stage in 2010 and in 2011, the Luzon area and that will complete the nationwide shortage of electricity and power”.

“The Philippines is lucky to have abundant sources of renewable energy,” Angara said, clarifying that he is not against coal or other conventional sources of energy.

At the presentation of the Western Visayas Renewable Energy Source, the following are the topics and their lecturers: Wind Power by Ms. Rosario B. Venturina, SVP, Trans-Asia Power Corp.; Solar Energy-Roberto L. Puckett, President, Solar Electric Co; Hydro Power – Jose S. Natividad, CEO, Sunwest Water Electric; Bio-Energy: Waste to Energy- Ernesto V. Tan, SVP and CEO, ASEA ONE; Bio-Energy: Biomass Co-Generation-Antonio Steven L. Chan, President, Central Azucarera de San Antonio; Sustainable Biomass Power Development – Grace S. Yeneza, Preferred Energy Inc/Global Green Power, Plc Corp; and Geothermal-Agnes de Jesus, VP FirstGen Corp. (With reports from PIA)