by Myrna Velasco – August 3, 2016
from Manila Bulletin
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi prefers that the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complex in Mindanao be retained under government ownership given the level of positive earnings the facilities have been bringing to the State coffers.
The energy chief reportedly sounded off his discretion when the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) presented the privatization plan they will be pursuing for the remaining assets of the National Power Corporation (NPC).
The 727-megawatt Agus complex and the 255-MW Pulangui hydropower plant were traditionally the main source of power supply for Mindanao end-users.
Given the volume these plants have been delivering to customers, PSALM emphasized that net earnings from them hover at R6.0 billion to R8.0 billion annually.
The reported income caught the attention of Cusi, thus, he contemplated on having the plants better kept under government hands.
Nevertheless, the Department of Finance (DOF) is having a different opinion in regard to the Agus-Pulangui complex, as it also wants PSALM to fully carry out its mandate of divesting all of NPC’s remaining power assets.
PSALM Officer-in-Charge Lourdes S. Alzona admitted that the split perspective of these two relevant agencies would be something that they would have to weigh at some point in time.
“When Secretary Cusi had seen that Agus-Pulangui’s financial results have been positive over the years, he thought that it might be better to retain the assets as government rather than privatize them,” the PSALM executive relayed.
Based on the privatization timeline provided to media, the DOE indicated that divestment plan for the Agus-Pulangui complex will be next year, “subject to consultation with Congress,” as prescribed under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.
The privatization of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower facilities had always been controversial, with many stakeholder groups in Mindanao opposing the plan.
Their alternative proposal will be to place the assets under a government-controlled firm – the propounded Mindanao Power Corporation – that will then manage the asset and sustain it as a cheap source of power for Mindanao customers.
There have also been earlier plans to privatize the asset via the engagement of an independent power producer administrator (IPPA) – but this too had not picked up pace with many of the concerned Mindanao stakeholders.