PSALM bent on restarting gov’t privatization thrust


State-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. is bent on pushing forward the governments privatization program, which has been stalled for nearly three years.

“[The privatization program] is moving. We are just ironing out a few issues. You will see an acceleration in privatization in the next six to twelve months,” PSALM president and CEO Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. told the Inquirer.

In an interview, Ledesma said the PSALM board already approved the sale of the 146-megawatt Naga power complex in Cebu as a generation asset, and the bidding for the contracted capacity of the 150-MW Casecnan hydropower facility in Nueva Ecija.

The Naga complex consists of three thermal power plants that use a combination of diesel, bunker oil and coal as fuel. These are the coal-fired 50-MW Cebu thermal power plant 1 and 56.8-MW Cebu thermal power plant 2; and the 39-MW Cebu diesel power plant 1.

The Casecnan facility meanwhile is a combined irrigation and hydroelectric power project initiated by the National Irrigation Administration. It was built to generate power and improve the operating performance of the existing downstream hydroelectric power plants in Pantabangan and Masiway, and to irrigate 31,000 hectares of agricultural land. It also stabilizes the water supply of irrigated areas measuring 102,000 hectares.

As for Power Barges 101, 102, 103 and 104, the government will soon sell these diesel-fed assets to the private sector, Ledesma said.

“The PSALM Board’s instruction is to pursue the privatization of the power barges, with the sale structure under discussion between the Department of Energy and PSALM,” he said.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla himself stressed that the four power barges have to be privatized “at all cost” despite the obvious lack of private sector interest in the facilities.

So far, only Phinma-led Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. has expressed interest in acquiring the power barges on condition that the government must amend certain provisions in the contracts, including the price. The company previously offered P43.83 million for Power Barges 101 and 102; P1 million for Power Barge 3; and P50.13 million for Power Barge 4, or a total of P95 million.

PSALM failed in all three attempts to dispose of the power barges last year.

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