Group blames Noynoy for worsening energy problem

by Marvyn N. BenaningAugust 4, 2016

from Business Mirror

Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate of Bayan Muna has asked the government to “very seriously reconsider the privatization of the state’s power assets” in the face of the continued yellow- and red-alert power status in the past weeks in Luzon.

This developed as 812 megawatts (MW) more were shaved off from the Luzon Grid on Thursday due to the so-called forced outage of Kalayaan Unit 2; the scheduled outage of the Santa Rita Unit 2; and the extended maintenance of Pagbilao Unit 2.

Zarate has urged President Duterte “to support the steps to address the power situation and to have cheaper and affordable electricity.”

He also blamed the previous Aquino administration for its failure to effectively resolve the country’s worsening energy problem.

“While the problem is now in the hands of the new administration, the real culprit really is the previous Aquino administration’s ‘noynoying’ by doing little, if anything at all, to address the lingering problem for years,” Zarate said.

To mitigate the current “power woes,” the Davao-based progressive lawmaker has asked the administration to undertake the following:

  • Prohibit the government from selling what is left of the government’s energy assets, like the Agus-Pulangi Hydro-Power Complex,  and, instead, infuse fresh capital to rehabilitate and increase the capacity of these power plants;
  • Use the P175-billion Malampaya funds in constructing power plants, especially those that utilize renewable sources, and could go onstream within three years. These plants can then be operated and owned by entities under the Department of Energy  apart from the National Power Corp. and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp., which are barred from power generation by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira);
  • Move for the abolition of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market  and order the distribution utilities to gradually contract 100 percent of their requirements;
  • Buy back the power plants sold to the private sector under Epira;
  • Institute wide ranging reforms in the electric cooperatives sector eradicate corruption and inefficiency while increasing public participation in the distribution utilities’  decision-making bodies;
  • Scrap the policy of deregulation and eliminate the automatic pass-through provisions of generation, transmission and other charges; and
  • Institute the policy of regulation of all charges, requiring public notification and hearing before any power rate increase.

“These are just some of the medium- and long-term steps that will hopefully address this nagging power crisis and eventually provide our consumers the long-promised affordable electricity. We can no longer rely on mere stopgap measures, like the interruptible load program,  that lead to further power rate increases.Matagal ng umaasa ang bayan ng pagbabago,especially sa power sector. We hope that the new administration will heed the people’s call and adopt our proposals,” Zarate said.

Zarate is also one of the principal authors of House Bill (HB) 351, or the Power Retention Bill, and  HB 3403, or the One Million Solar Roofs, in the 16th Congress.