Aquino eyes power sector reforms
MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino indicated Friday he would support Congress’ plan to introduce a new wave of reforms in the power sector amid charges of collusion among industry players to push up electricity rates.
“Probably, there will be changes to Epira (the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act) to facilitate more competition. What is important is to increase the generating plants. The idea of competition, we need to strengthen that,” Mr. Aquino said at a press briefing.
Several bills have been filed in the House of Representatives seeking to amend, repeal or replace Epira, the law passed 13 years ago which liberalized the power sector, putting an end to the state-run National Power Corp.’s monopoly on power generation.
According to party-list Rep. Walden Bello (Akbayan), the furor over the steep increase in the Manila Electric Co.’s electricity rates for no justifiable reason typified Epira’s failure to provide a stable and affordable power supply, with no new power generation plant being built in more than a decade.
“Privatization has resulted in monopoly control, inefficient power delivery and sky-high prices, not in more efficiency, less concentration and lower prices,” said Bello.
M. Aquino said his administration has taken a “multi-pronged” strategy to lick the country’s chronic power problems, starting with increasing power generation, followed by an expansion of power sources, and finally a review of all the pertinent laws on how to encourage competition.
The President particularly noted the changes in the Wholesale Electricy Spot Market (WESM) where private and public power companies were alleged to have connived to stimulate a price spike during the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas field and justify Meralco’s rate hike.
The Supreme Court has suspended indefinitely Meralco’s bid to collect an additional P4.15 per kilowatt per hour rate increase.
“We are studying whether the trading range in the spot market should have parameters as there are limits that has made it a not so open market,” Mr. Aquino said.
The Department of Energy conducted a series of public hearings between January and February this year to get a sense of what industry players and consumers have to say concerning what kind of revisions should be introduced in the Epira.
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