DAVAO CITY – A partylist group would soon file a bill to repeal the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 or Epira, said one of the group’s representative in a forum here.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said they came-up with the bill describing the Epira as “the locus of the country’s energy problems.”

“With Epira, energy was privatized and deregulated and was put at the mercy of corporations which main interest is profit and not whether the ordinary citizen suffers from outages and high prices,” said Colmenares.

Colmenares said the proposed bill, which is still under the process of research and fine-tuning, will have seven features.

“First, is to stop the policy of privatization and second is that Agus and Pulangi and other hydropower plants should not be sold,” said Colmenares.

Colmenares said in the case of Mindanao the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) wherein companies with embedded diesel power such as big malls will not access the grid in case of energy supply deficits, is also a form of privatization.

“ILP temporarily solves a certain power deficit at a certain period it was because we are forced to be in this situation where instead of the government investing in power, we buy from the private sector,” he said.

The third, said Colmenares is to “remove WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) and instead only enter into contracts with companies who can give guaranteed power.”

“For example, we contracted a company with 1,000 megawatts and because of certain factors the company fails to deliver 100 megawatts, guaranteed power means the company will be the one to look for the deficit,” he said.

The fourth he said is that “there will be no pass throughs,” which means “should the cost of generating power change, it should not be automatically passed on to consumers.”

“It’s similar to how jeepney drivers cannot even increase 50 cents in fare if it has not undergone hearings. For power companies, it’s not even life and death,” he said.

He said there are many models of how rates are increased in other countries like in Brazil where the rate adjustment is scheduled every six months.

“The fifth is that the government build new (power) plants, buy-back those it sold or to renationalize the energy sector,” he said.

Colmenares said they are still studying a “formula” on  how the purchase or investment will go.

The sixth feature of the bill, said Colmenares is to “clean up the distribution aspect and make it transparent.”

“There must be a genuine energy audit to find-out basic facts like how much does a plant really generate. Up to now, the government in fact has not shown evidence that there is really a supply shortage,” he said.

Lastly, the proposed bill includes government investment on renewable energy “which is more advantageous than fossil fuels”.

“Fossil fuels will not last forever and is expensive. The government must just have a political will to invest,” he said.

Colmenares said consumers, especially those in Mindanao, “must be educated and must guard the energy sector as public pressure can deter those who want to take advantage of it.”

He cited the Makabayan bloc’s opposition to give “emergency powers” to President Benigno Aquino III because of “perceived blackouts in the summer months of March, April and May.”

“That would’ve given the President power to spend P14 billion to purchase generators. But because we, as legislators, also learned how the basis computation of supply and demand in the energy sector, we saw there is even an excess, so we opposed it,” he said.

Colmenares said that Metro Manila has not suffered any blackout in the summer months, despite projections of the energy department.(davaotoday.com)

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