Casiño bats for lower power rates in MindanaoBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—A lawmaker urged the Aquino administration on Tuesday to heed the clamor of Mindanao for more viable and practical solutions to the ongoing power crisis on the island without having to jack up electricity rates.
In a statement, Party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño urged the government to consider massive development of renewable energy in Mindanao instead of pursuing the privatization of the state-owned power plants and the establishment of the so-called interim electricity market.
Casiño questioned the planned interim electricity market, which can free up as much as 360 megawatts of embedded capacity in Mindanao but will put an additional burden of 30 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kWh) on consumers.
“Why should consumers shoulder this amount while power companies prosper? There is also danger that it may be manipulated by power players, similar to the speculation about wholesale electricity spot market (WESM),” said the Makabayan senatorial bet in next year’s mid-term elections.
The proposed interim market will operate similarly to the WESM, as it will provide energy investors in Mindanao with a platform where they can trade their excess electricity. The Department of Energy is targeting to implement the scheme starting 2013 to help alleviate the expected power supply shortage of about 200 MW in Mindanao by the summer of next year.
Casiño urged the government to adopt other alternatives to address the Mindanao power crisis.
According to Casiño, the government must accelerate the rehabilitation of all the Agus hydro plants that are not producing at their respective installed capacities (Agus 1, 2, 4 and 6); implement the Balo-i flood control project; and rehabilitate the Pulangui plant to produce at least 254 MW of additional cheap renewable energy.
In the short term, Casiño urged the government to temporarily take over power barges 117 and 118 which were acquired by the Aboitiz-led Therma Marine, Inc. and allow these facilities to provide at least 120 MW of power at much lower rates.
He also stressed the need to compel the state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. to deploy the Visayas-based barges to Mindanao to take up the power shortfall while additional capacity is being created from renewable energy sources.
The Davao-born lawmaker added that in order to pursue the those measures, the government must abandon the policy of privatization of all public power facilities.
“The root cause of the Mindanao power crisis is government’s neglect of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower systems due to the policy of privatization. Government did not repair or rehabilitate the power plants because it planned to sell them anyway,” he said.
“A problem caused by privatization cannot be solved by more privatization and commercialization. Government cannot escape its obligation of providing cheap and stable power to the people of Mindanao. Thus we will have to eventually scrap the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira),” he said.
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