Keep Mindanao hydro plants in gov’t hands, co-ops ask
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY— Electric cooperatives in Mindanao are calling on the government to retain ownership of two major sources of cheap electricity in the island—the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric plants in the provinces of Lanao and Bukidnon.
Allowing the plants to fall into the hands of the private sector, the cooperatives said, would lead to a sharp increase in power rates.
Mindanao consumers currently pay only P4.43 per kilowatt hour to the National Power Corp. (Napocor), through their electric cooperatives, in generation system charge.
But the Association of Mindanao Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) said the situation could change once the two power plants—which supply at least half of Mindanao’s power—are sold to the private sector.
In July, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Corp. (Psalm) said the plan to privatize the hydroelectric power plants by 2017 was on track.
Psalm, however, said the plan awaits a go-signal from the Duterte administration.
At a meeting here of Amreco officials, the 34-member group drew up a manifesto urging the government to review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, which prescribed the privatization of government power generation plants in a bid to promote competitive pricing and stop the bleeding of government finances on power plants.
Under the law, Agus and Pulangi are among the plants exempted from immediate privatization but Psalm, which took over its ownership, had put it up for sale. While Psalm owns the hydropower facilities, Napocor continues to operate them.
The Agus hydropower complex has an installed capacity of at least 700 megawatts (MW) while Pulangi in Maramag, Bukidnon has an installed capacity of 255 megawatts.
The Department of Energy said it is looking at options on how to privatize the two facilities but admitted that their fate is up to Congress.
In an earlier interview, Sergio Dagooc, Amreco president, said it was better for the government to continue operating the two hydropower plants for the benefit of consumers.
“Keeping these (hydropower plants) in government will certainly moderate any price increase adjustments of power as Agus and Pulangi Plants will give a mix to the price of power that is lower,” he said in October.
Dagooc said Amreco also believes that selling the two facilities to the private sector would raise business operating costs. —JIGGER JERUSALEM
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