Long-term solution to power crisis in Mindanao pushed

Oct. 26, 2012

Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Teddy Casiño said the root cause of Mindanao’s power crisis is “the government’s neglect of the Agus-Pulangi hydropower systems due to the policy of privatization.”

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mindanao is again plagued with brownouts especially those areas covered by electric cooperatives. Two to three hours of power curtailment is again prevailing in provinces affecting business establishments and the ordinary consumers.

Early this year, Mindanao was crippled by seven to eight hours of brownouts that forced President Benigno Aquino III to go down here in Davao City for a power summit.

But the power summit did not bring lasting solutions to the continuing power crisis in the island. Instead, Aquino urged the Mindanaoans to pay more in exchange for good power services.

Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Teddy Casiño said the root cause of Mindanao’s power crisis is “the government’s neglect of the Agus-Pulangi hydropower systems due to the policy of privatization.”

He added that the Aquino government “did not repair or rehabilitate the power plants because it planned to sell it anyway.”

Second, according to the progressive solon, “was the privatization of diesel-fed power barges 117 and 118 which allowed Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine, Inc. to drop existing supply contracts and jack up its price beyond the reach of regular power distributors.”

The EPIRA or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act must also be scrapped, Casiño stressed, because the law is the main vehicle of privatization of power resources.

“A problem caused by privatization cannot be solved by more privatization and commercialization,” he pointed out.

The solution, according to Casiño, must “not jack up power rates, lead to the further privatization of public power plants or tie down the island to dirty fossil fuel-based power”. The development of renewable energy, he added, must be seriously considered by the government now.

Posted in his blog dubbed as “Presyo Ibaba”, Casiño proposes the following long-term solutions to Mindanao power crisis:

First, the performance of Mindanao power plants must be improved. Casiño suggested the acceleration of the rehabilitation of all Agus hydro power plants not producing their designed capacities. He is referring to Agus 1, 2, 4 and 6.

In addition to this is the fast-tracking of the implementation of the Balo-i flood control project and the rehabilitation of the Pulangui plant to produce at least 254 megawatts of cheap and renewable energy.

Second, the progressive solon said, is to find additional solution and the utilization of existing resources of energy. In the short term, the privatized power barges 117 and 118 of the Therma Marine Incorporated must be taken-over and allow it to provide at least 120 MW of power at much lower rates.

He also suggested working for the voiding of the sale of said power barges on the basis of irregularities and to compel the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation-National Power Corporation (PSALM-NPC) to deploy its power barges on the basis of irregularities.

Third, the government must seriously consider the acceleration of the construction of renewable energy power plants instead of coal plants.

The country is abundant in geothermal, solar, wind, ocean waves and biomass energy resources, Casiño asserted.

He added that as per study of the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), renewable resources are capable to producing energy enough to supply the current needs of the country.

The geothermal potential is estimated to produce 290MW plus a current capacity of 103MW and 50 MW worth of approved projects projected to be online by 2014.

The current hydropower capacity is at 1,080MW, with 1,263.9MW pegged as targeted additional capacity.

The wind potential (e.i, windmills) is estimated at 336MW; the biomass with 36.8MW waiting to be implemented; and the solar power with the capacity of 5KW per hour per square meter.

The above-stated solution, according to Casiño will provide more electricity in Mindanao without increasing costs and would clean up the environment as well.

But finally, he said, in order to pursue the said measures, first the foremost, the government must abandon its policy of privatization of all public power utilities. (Alex D. Lopez, davaotoday.com

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