Philippines to host two major regional power conferences

By Victor V. Saulon – March 19, 2019 | 10:06 pm
from Business World

THE LAW that reformed the power sector is expected to take center stage when the Philippines hosts two gatherings of regional energy ministers and chief executives late this year and towards the end of next year, industry stakeholders said.

“Is nationalization really the answer to the [power] crisis,” Melvin A. Matibag, president and chief executive officer of state-led National Transmission Corp. (TransCo), said in a news conference at the Energy department headquarters on Tuesday.

TransCo is among the hosts of two events for the Association of Electricity Supply Industry of East Asia and the Western Pacific (AESIEAP) along with privately owned companies National Grid Corp. of the Philippines and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), as well as the Department of Energy (DoE) and Department of Tourism (DoT).

“At that time, maybe that was the right solution,” Mr. Matibag said about Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), the law that privatized the country’s energy assets.

Rogelio L. Singson, president and chief executive officer of Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen), said other countries could find “some lessons” from EPIRA, especially territories that continue to subsidize their electricity costs.

He said “true” power prices have been positive for the Philippines and could offer other countries a benchmark if they decide to privatize power distribution. EPIRA resulted in the sale of most government energy assets, from power generation, transmission and distribution.

For now, power prices in many islands and remote locations that are connected to the country’s main power grid remain subsidized by consumers through the universal charge for missionary electrification, he said.

“I believe there are still quite a few policies that could really help, especially if you propagate more renewables,” he said. “To me that is a regulatory concern.”

Mr. Singson, who is the secretary-general of AESIEAP for 2019 to 2020, said the Philippines set the bar when it last hosted in 2000. AESIEAP is the largest organization of power and industry companies in the region.

The organization’s key events to be hosted by the Philippines are the 2019 CEO Conference to take place in September in Cebu, and the 2020 Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry (CEPSI), which will be held in Manila.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, in a message issued during the news conference, said: “We are proud to have been given this opportunity, especially since our very own energy players — our local power companies and electric cooperatives — will gain invaluable knowledge and exposure to emerging regional technologies, standards, and best industry practices.”

More than 200 energy ministers and corporate officers are expected to attend the event in Cebu. CEPSI, considered the biggest electricity supply industry conference in East Asia and the Western Pacific region, is expected to draw at least 2,000 delegates from member organizations of AESIEAP.