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    Posted April 13, 2012 by
    bentesiorna
    Location
    Davao City, Philippines

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    Mindanao’s power shortage could be over by May – Energy sec

     


    By Ben O. Tesiorna

     

    DAVAO CITY – Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras boldly predicted that the problem on power supply in Mindanao could be over by the end of May this year, if everything goes well as planned.

    In Friday’s Power Summit here in Davao City which was attended by no less than President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Sec. Almendras said that the government have already identified several solution to the problem and all that’s lacking is the cooperation of everyone.

    “If everybody cooperates, there’s a good chance that we could solve significant portion of the shortage by end of May. Next year if we don’t bring additional generations and there is no contract to buy the generation, then we will be back to power shortage,” Almendras said.

    The secretary outlined their proposed short-term and medium-term solutions to the problem. The short-term would be for generation of power from already existing power sources, and getting Iligan power plant up and running.

    Almendras said there are several existing power generators in Mindanao that could be tapped to immediately address the problem. The Iligan power plant for example could readily generate 20MW of power once running and could achieve 100MW power generation in less than one year.

    The medium-term solution proposed by the government meanwhile are: getting more barges to augment more sources until such time that the power plants are up and running; and rehabilitation of the Agus and Pulangi hydro power plants.

    Almendras said it will take about 30 months to rehabilitate the Agus plant and one month for Pulangi.

    GUV’S STAND

    Leading Mindanao leaders meanwhile urged the President to defer the privatization of the Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants as mandated under the Epira Law. Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario said that there is a big possibility for private power providers to have a cartel on the power.

    The governor said that even this early, “there is already a semblance of control by some private power companies”.

    “We ask you Mr. President to certify as urgent for Epira Law to be revisited and look into the privatization of the two government-owned power plants,” Gov. del Rosario said.

    The Governors League of the Philippines supported such call and opposes the privatization of Agus and Pulangi.

    ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said that power generation, especially here in Mindanao must never be left alone to private companies.

    “This is public utility and public service, this must not be privatized,” said Hataman.

    POWER SUMMIT LAUDED

    Lanao del Norte Governor Khalid Dimaporo meanwhile lauded the national government for the holding of the power summit here in Mindanao. He said the summit has become the venue for all stakeholders to fully understand the present power situation in Mindanao.

    “Now we know what the game plan is, the game plan is that the power plant needs to be renovated. Lanao LGU will support the plan of the national government,” Dimaporo said.

    General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said that after the several forums she attended with regards to the power situation in Mindanao, it was only during the Mindanao Power Summit was she able to know of the real score.

    Earlier, several officials claimed that there is actually no power crisis in Mindanao and that some sectors are merely floating an artificial power crisis scenario so as to compel the local power cooperatives to buy power from the much more expensive power barges.

    No less than Mindanao Development Authority chair Lualhati Antonino claimed that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines is behind the artificial power crisis so as to compel the national government to privatize the hydropower plants.

     

    PRESIDENT’S REPLY

    President Aquino said that there is a possibility for them to defer further the privatization of the Agus-Pulangi plants. He worries though on the existing P928 billion debt of the National Power Corporation that’s being shouldered by the national government at present. It was learned that in 2003, Napocor had a P1.24 trillion debt.

    Aquino said that the national government only has P400 billion to spend for all the needs of the country. He said it is impossible for them to be spending it all to address the power crisis in Mindanao thus there is a need for private entities to come in.

    IT’S MY FAULT

    Energy Sec. Almendras meanwhile admitted fault over the power crisis being felt in Mindanao recently.

    In his presentation before hundreds of politicians and industry players during the Power Summit here in Davao City on Friday, the secretary said his office failed to execute their plans to avert the power problem here in Mindanao and that the buck stops in his office and should not be blamed on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

    "We are not without fault. We failed in executing our plans. This is not the president's failure,” Almendras said.
    President Aquino however cleared Almendras of any fault saying that the secretary is doing a good job to address the problem on power supply in Mindanao.
    “Sec. Almendras has become the favourite whipping boy of many people but it’s not fair to be blaming the secretary,” Aquino said.
    The President said they were made aware of the looming power crisis in Mindanao the moment he became President and that they’ve been working on the solution since then.

    At the end of the day, almost all sectors have agreed that there is no stopping the increase in the power rates in exchange for a steady power supply. As the President puts it, “you have to pay more because this is the reality of economics, not the rhetoric of politics”.

    “Everything has its price. You have to pay a real price for a real service. There are only two choices: pay a little more for energy, or live with the rotating brownouts,” Aquino said. BOT

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