Advocacy Mindanow :The powere conspiracy? PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 September 2012 14:32

BY Jess Dureza

I was in Manila this week and had breakfast with a businessman who is in the know about the power industry. He requested anonymity for obvious reasons. I was surprised to hear from him what he claims  to be a “grand conspiracy” by big power industry players in capturing the market at the expense of the consuming public.
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GOOD TRICK — For example, the passage of the EPIRA LAW was upon the behest of big players. Then, he said there is “skillful management” done by big players who first allow a “shortage” of power to happen so that when they start building power plants to add capacities, the consumers will have a feeling of great relief and will no longer mind a spike of power price. Consumers will feel grateful, the higher costs notwithstanding. Good trick!
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REAL SCORE —  There is therefore a need to revisit the EPIRA LAW that mandates the privatization of the power industry. The law which was passed more than 10 years ago, ostensibly to invite more private sector investors to come in and improve the power situation appears now as a “grand conspiracy” of big business to “hold captive” the consumers.

The law even removes from the government, by divesting itself of government -owned generating facilities,  the “leveraging power” to moderate price levels for the benefit of the citizens. That leaves the power industry players in full control. According to him, the EPIRA LAW was approved simply because there was industry capture by big business even of Congress itself at that time.
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HYDRO PLANTS — The move of some sectors in Mindanao to prevent the sale by government of the hydroelectric plants in the province of Lanao and in Bukidnon must therefore be supported. And the Mindanao consumers must not let their guard down; otherwise, we may wake up one morning losing our “treasures”. More than 50% of Mindanao’s power now is from those hydros that generate cheap power. If we are not vigilant, we will lose the “price mix” that gives us cheaper electric power costs compared to Visayas and Luzon.
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ALTERNATIVES —Power generators which are nontraditional, like bio mass, solar or wind are alternatives. Although they cost more than the bunker-fed giants, small plants can supply a small population, like coop areas, sufficiently. Well, even diesel or bunker fuel engines, with lesser capacities can even be viable for small communities that need power.
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WAKE UP COOPS— There is also a need for electric cooperatives to have their own power generating capacities or exclusive sources, even though how small, so they can really be on their own feet and not be at the mercy of big power generating companies. It they don’t start doing this early, the coops (and their consumers) will always be tied to the apron strings of big business.  DASURECO of Davao del Sur and the other Davao consumer coops must start looking at this possibility now.

Stay awake, everyone!