Tuesday, 17 April 2012 00:00
Partylist Rep. Teddy Casiño called on Pres. Benigno Aquino III to take off his blinders on the Mindanao power crisis and realize that "paying a littlemore" for electricity will have dire consequences on the island's economy considering that present rates are already high compared to key cities in Asia.
“The premise that Mindanao has been unjustifiably enjoying “cheap” power rates is totally wrong. True, Mindanao has lower power rates than Luzon and the Visayas. But Mindanao isa ctually paying much more than most major cities in Asia. In fact, residential consumers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Cagayan de Oro City, Northern Mindanao, and the Davao and CARAGA regions are paying twice the electricity rates of residents in Seoul and Beijing,” said the progressive lawmaker.
Latest available comparative data show that Mindanao has an effective residential rate of P6.69 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Luzon has P9.84 while Visayas has P8.19. (Data from 18th EPIRA Implementation Status Report). In contrast, except for CARAGA, all the Mindanao regions mentioned above also have more expensive residential power rates than Hong Kong. These areas inMindanao, plus Cotabato City, Iligan City, SOCCKSARGEN, and the ZamboangaPeninsula all have higher residential rates than major Asian capitals likeTaipei, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, New Delhi, Bangkok, and Shanghai, among others.All in all, Mindanao is paying an average of P1.82 per kWh more for electricitythan the 31 major cities in Asia and Oceania surveyed by Japan External TradeOrganization (JETRO).
"If we make Mindanao's power rates at par withthe Visayas and Luzon, the island will lose its competitive edge. Good publicpolicy dictates that power rates should be kept as low as possible to spurinvestments and keep prices of commodities low. But the President's policy isto increase prices to attract private power firms whose objective is to sell power at the highest possible rates. It's just crazy!" he emphasized.
“What is happening here is that Pres. Aquino isfavouring private power firms who want high prices instead of consumers whowant low prices. He should also see that Mindanao is different from Luzon andthe Visayas considering that a large percentage of its power comes fromhydro-power that is cheap,” said the Davao-born solon.
"It is tragic thatMindanao's reliance on hydropower is seen as a problem rather than the solutionto the crisis. For so many decades, it has been the government-run hydropowerplants that have kept prices low in Mindanao. The solution is to increase andfurther develop this cheap source of renewable energy, not replace it withexpensive and dirty diesel and coal plants owned by private companies," hestressed.
He cited the case of Norway and New Zealand whichrely on hydropower, which comprise 90% and 66% of their power from hydropower.
Casiño added that it is not true that cheap powerfrom Napocor's hydropower plants have kept out investors in the power sector,resulting in a shortage. "In fact, it has been cheap energy that haveattracted so many investors in Mindanao. The shortage was caused by the neglectof the hydropower plants precisely as a prelude to privatization. Also, thereis a long list of investors in the renewable energy sector wanting to enterMindanao, it is just that the ERC has so far failed to approve the pricingscheme for renewable energy."
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