Congress asked to repeal EPIRA

by Charissa Luci, January 28, 2015
from Manila Bulletin

Congress has been urged to totally overhaul the 13-year-old Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

Consumer network People Opposed to unWarranted Electricity Rates (POWER) pushed for the “total repeal” of the supposed “anti-people and pro-corporation” Republic Act 9136.

POWER Convenor and former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casiño said it is about time for Congress to “radically amended or, even better, totally repeal EPIRA in favor of a law that would strengthen regulation over the power industry and gives back to government the authority and capacity to build and run power plants and related facilities.”

Citing his group’s position paper on the 20 EPIRA bills and resolutions pending before the House Committee on Energy, he said EPIRA caused “unprecedented and artificial” spike in power rates as of December 2013.

Such spike “was foreseen but not prevented by an inutile Department of Energy (DOE), taken advantage of by colluding industry players, and then given an imprimatur by an inept and beholden Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC),” according to the position paper the group submitted to the House panel, chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.

The group said among the provisions of the EPIRA that must be scrapped include  Sections 6 and 29 declaring power generation and supply as non-public utilities and therefore not subject to regulation; Section 30 creating the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM); Sections 32 and 33 allowing the National Power Corporation (NPC) and distribution utilities to pass on stranded costs and stranded debts to consumers; Section 45 allowing for cross ownerships between power generators and distributors; Chapter V privatizing the National Power Corp.; Section 21 privatizing the national grid and Section 71 limiting the government’s power to directly intervene in the power industry.

“The end result of all these are high power rates, constant supply shortages, and a government that is helpless in the face of a crisis,” Casiño told the Umali panel.

He stressed that Congress should come up with a new law “to establish a responsive, sustainable and state-led power industry.”

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