Celso files House bill seeking to creating Mindanao Power Corp. PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 20 February 2015 17:34

To help ensure long-term adequate power to support Mindanao’s economic development, Zamboanga City Rep. Celso L. Lobregat has proposed the creation of the Mindanao Power Corporation (MinPOW).

Lobregat is author of HB 2621 or the proposed “Charter of the Mindanao Power Corporation” now pending with the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization chaired by Rep. Jesus Sacdalan (2nd District, North Cotabato).

“This bill seeks the non-privatization of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complexes, located in Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon provinces, which are considered the crown jewels of the Mindanao power industry,” Rep. Lobregat stressed.

The lawmaker added that his move is to find and formulate a viable way to operate and maintain these assets that provide most of the electricity requirements in Mindanao at lower rates.

R.A. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 which liberalized and allowed the privatization of the power industry was aimed at securing the country’s power supply and reducing cost of electricity through greater competition and efficiency.

EPIRA was intended to free the government from subsidizing capital-intensive power projects, and allow instead the private sector to put up these crucial projects. Thus, the law directed the government to privatize or sell its power generation assets and the capacities it contracted with the independent power producers (IPPs).

“However, more than a decade after the law’s enactment power outages, particularly in Mindanao, continue to be experienced by consumers,” the author noted.

For the first 10 years of EPIRA’s enforcement, Mindanao’s Agus and Pulangui hydroelectric power complexes in Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon, respectively, were exempted from privatization.

The EPIRA provided that the ownership of the Agus and Pulangui power complexes were to be transferred to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the State agency that was created to handle the privatization of National Power Corporation’s (NPC’s) assets, and that both would continue to be operated by NPC, Lobregat explained.

“After 10 years, the privatization of the Agus and Pulangui complexes was to be left to the discretion of the PSALM in consultation with congress, as the law provided,” the author added.

Lobregat bill seeks the non-privatization of Agus-Pulangui hydropower complexes which are considered as the crown jewels of the Mindanao power industry.

“There are calls to stop the sale of the Agus and Pulangui complexes since these are sources of cheap power in Mindanao that should not fall into the hands of profit-driven private interests,” Lobregat said.

The lawmaker stressed that a Policy should be adopted on the non-privatization of the said power complexes because these are essential to the public welfare, especially in communities in Mindanao, and would be better left under government control considering their inherently profitable nature.

Because of their inherent profitable nature, the operation, maintenance, expansion, and/or improvement of such hydropower complexes could be done with no government subsidy, while sustaining the required level of power supply in Mindanao, Lobregat pointed out.

Lobregat also recalled that the creation of the MinPOW was first proposed by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) during the 2012 Mindanao Power Summit.

He also noted that the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) immediately expressed its support considering that the Agus-Pulangui hydro plants are Mindanao’s patrimony and should be in government hands.