New energy chief vows to reduce cost of power

by Alena Mae S. Flores – July 04, 2016 at 11:40 pm

from Manila Standard Today

Newly-installed Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Monday vowed to bring down the cost of power in the country, which is one of the highest in the world.

Cusi told reporters in a news briefing after the turnover ceremony at the department that reducing the cost of power would be an important part of his energy reform agenda.

Cusi said power cost in the Philippines was the highest in Asia, “second to Japan.”

“To reduce power rates, it is my desire. We will work for it,” he said.

Cusi said reducing the power cost “requires a lot of studies….in all areas.” He said the agency would also review universal charges and transmission charges, aside from power generation cost.

Cusi said he would also study how to lower the power sector’s debt managed by Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.

“I’m looking at it from a perspective of a consumer, not discounting the responsibility to the utilities. I’m just finding a solution,” he said.

PSALM has outstanding debts of about P555 billion.

“That’s again another story how to bring down the debt. There are many ways to reduce the pass-on charges. If we can stretch that out on a longer period of time,” Cusi said.

Cusi said he would also review the service contracts granted to power players and whether these were being complied with.

He said the department also aimed to ensure there would be no interruptions in supply by scheduling the maintenance schedule of power plants.

Cusi said that in his first 100 days in office, he would review the issues and policies in the department.  “I tasked everybody to review their process in dealing with the public. Our permitting has to be transparent, predictable and with definite timeline,” he said.

Cusi said he wanted to ensure the basic delivery of services to the poor. “For the island provinces, the first 30 days, we will have consultations and determine why we have problems in electricity,” he said.

Cusi said he ended ties with the Aboitiz Group in 1990 and built his own business in 1991.  Cusi was involved in the shipping and logistics business of the Aboitiz Group up to 1990.

“I have said that we have to make the playing field level for all. No favoritism…I have never been involved in power with them,” he said, referring to the Aboitiz Group, which is one of the largest power companies in the country.

Cusi said he would also review the concession of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, operator of the country’s transmission network “to look at their deliverables.”

Cusi said as the new secretary, he wanted to make sure that the provisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 were fully implemented.