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Co-ops seek 20-year freeze on rates if gov’t sells hydropower plants

/ 02:25 PM January 28, 2012

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines—The Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) is asking the government to ensure that whoever buys two hydroelectric power plants that it reportedly plans to sell will not raise power rates for 20 years following the sale.

Sergio Dagooc, president of the 32-member Amreco, said it appeared that the government was serious about privatizing the  Agus and Pulangui hydropower plants because a government official has said the proposal was inevitable.

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Dagooc said the hydropower plants account for 55 percent of Mindanao’s power supply and were the main reason why power rates on the island were lower compared to those in Luzon or the Visayas.

Currently cooperatives buy electricity at about P6 per kilowatthour from the hydropower plants, which are operated by the government.

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Amreco, in an earlier statement, said that even if the electricity generated by the hydroplants was sold to end-consumers at a much higher rate, Mindanao would still enjoy  the lowest power rates in the country.

That was the reason why, Amreco said, it could not understand why the government wanted to sell the facilities.

Dagooc said the government  reasoned out that the hydropower plants have been producing less energy during the past years and the government did not have enough resources to increase the plants’ generation capacities.

He said Amreco would like to see the government data on this.

“We would like to see if what they claimed was true. There should be transparency in power generation,” he said.

Mindanao Development Authority head Luwalhati Antonino said the government was only trying to ensure that power supply in Mindanao is stabilized by letting the private sector upgrade existing hydropower facilities or build new ones.

“The government’s feasibility studies showed that mini- and micro-power dams are viable options,” she said.

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TAGS: Amreco, Electricity, Mindanao, power, privatization, Regions
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