Win: Minpocor creation may be in breach of Epira, needs review

By Lenie Lectura – July 12, 2019
from Business Mirror

THE proposed creation of the Mindanao Power Corp. (Minpocor) must undergo an extensive review because the law prohibits the government from owning a power plant, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said on Thursday.

“There are some congressmen who filed bills to create what we call Mindanao Power Corp.  in which the main asset will be the Agus-Pulangi power complex.

“The direction there is the government will still retain ownership of the asset and then the O&M [operation and management] can be privatized. We’ll iave an extensive hearing on this…  If the government will retain ownership of this asset, then government will be in the power-generating assets, which is contradictory to Epira,” said Gatchalian, referring to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act enacted 18 years ago.

The Agus complex, which has 728 megawatt (MW) of installed capacity, consists of six cascading power plants strategically located along the Agus River.

The Pulangi complex, meanwhile, is a 255-MW hydro power facility with three generating units. Both facilities, however, already have a derated generation.

Electric cooperatives in Mindanao are pushing for both facilities to remain under state control through a new corporate entity instead of giving them up for privatization.

The Agus-Pulangi power facility is among the remaining power assets that have yet to be sold by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM).

PSALM is pushing the rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi complex first before it is sold. The rehabilitation is aimed at extending the facilities’ service life by 30 more years and to increase the plants’ reliability and availability.

PSALM is the agency tasked to manage state-owned power assets. The National Power Corp. is still the owner of the hydro complex. The hydropower complex is required to be privatized under Republic Act 9136 or Epira, the law that restructured the energy sector.

“For me, this is one of the crown jewels of PSALM. If you rehabilitate this, maraming magiging interested dito sa asset na ito [many will be interested in this asset]. Ang gusto naman natin [what we want] at the end is to maximize this asset. It would be a waste if this asset won’t be maximized,” said Gatchalian.