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Pres. Aquino expresses interest to review EPIRA

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DAVAO CITY - President Simeon Benigno Aquino III conveyed to participants of the Mindanao Power Summit the shared interest of the executive department to review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.

He revealed his direction towards EPIRA amendments in reaction to calls of the Mindanao Confederation of Mayors and Governors (Confed) aired by its chair, Gov. Rodolfo P. del Rosario, to revise EPIRA.

“It's time to reevaluate whether it has attained what it was supposed to attain,” President Aquino said in his interaction with more than 300 multi-sectoral participants to the Mindanao Power Summit held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.

In presenting his recommendations, Del Rosario said that EPIRA had not worked efficiently in Mindanao in its 11 years of implementation, and that 16 Sangguniang Panlalawigan resolutions expressed such sentiments.

His call to jumpstart in Mindanao the campaign to revise EPIRA is founded on four recommendations.
Del Rosario pushed for the non-privatization of Agus-Pulangi Hydro Power Plants, saying the impact of privatization of such power facilities would become “intolerable” once these power facilities are surrendered to the private sector.

His second proposal prohibits cross ownership between and among the generation, transmission, and distribution sectors because the integration of such power industry functions would mean only few players would gain control.

“Sweetheart deals drive power rates up,” he said as the alluded to a “semblance of cartel” among power companies which enjoy less market competition in Mindanao.

Del Rosario also recommended to reclassify the power generating sectors as “utilities” defined under the Public Utilities Law to put a cap on profits because even a one centavo per kilowatt hour increase on power rates would mean substantial annual income of P670 million.
To keep the interest of Mindanaons protected, Del Rosario suggested that a Mindanao consumer group representative be appointed to sit in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Del Rosario pointed out that the government can ably retain control of the Pulangi and Agus power plants because the National Power Corporation (NPC) is substantially earning as much as P7 billion to P9 billion every year based on a nine-year NPC income analysis.

He then requested President Aquino to certify as urgent the revision of EPIRA as he expressed his optimism that the Mindanao lawmakers together with their allies in Congress are willing to take up discussion of such law and push it to the Senate.

President Aquino said he would study the proposal, and that he assured to sustain the system through which Mindanao sources more than half of its power demand through the hydro power plants in Pulangi and in Agus.

by: RIGA/JDA - PIA 11




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