‘Mindanao Power Corporation’ mulled if Agus, Pulangi privatized

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 March) – Bukidnon’s two electric cooperatives will likely push for the creation of A Mindanao Power Corporation if efforts to stop the privatization of the Agus and Pulangi power complexes would prove futile, Edgardo Masongsong, Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative general manager said.

Masongsong said in a press conference Tuesday with executives from Buseco and the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative that the two power distribution firms may go into transmission and generation as allowed by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001.

But he said that for now they are holding Mindanao-wide campaigns to stop the privatization in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the Epira in June.

The two firms have earlier announced [their] interest to bid for the Pulangi IV power complex should it be privatized to ensure that local power rates remain beneficial to the consumers.

The Epira provides that the Agus and Pulangui hydropower complexes may be privatized this year even if these were excluded from among the generation companies that were initially privatized.

The law says the privatization of the two power plants will be left to the discretion of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corp., in consultation with Congress.

Masongsong, who is also president of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco), said they will ask Congress to pass a law that will stop the privatization or what they call “perpetual non-disposal.”

“But if they pursue it this year, we will push for the creation of the Mindanao Power Corporation to be the one to run the two complexes,” he added.

Raul Alkuino, Fibeco board president, said it will be a corporation owned by electric cooperatives and power consumers.

He also said they have set up the Amreco Power Supply Aggregation Group (PSAG) Corporation as a leverage of their 21 member electric cooperatives in the wholesale electricity spot market or WESM.

According to the WESM website, it is “a venue where electricity made by power-producing companies are centrally coordinated and traded like any other commodity in a market of goods in a level playing field and prices are driven by the law of supply and demand to buyers with the objective of giving the best price for consumers of electricity including the ultimate end-user.”

The two cooperatives also called for the removal of the 12-percent expanded value-added tax on electricity and the review and revision of the Epira

In an ad published in the Mindanao Business Week, a group of electric consumers from Bukidnon expressed their “strong opposition” to the privatization.  They argued that it will increase the power rates in Mindanao and will only “benefit the rich, to further enrich themselves.”

“The privatization or sale is actually selling the Filipino people to the capitalists at the extent of the poor, which is the majority of the Filipino people,” they added.

Signed by 280 electric consumers, the ad called on the government to stop the “all-out” effort of the Department of Energy, PSALM and the National Power Corporation to “fast-track” the privatization.

They called on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to “order” Congress to pass a law banning the privatization of the two power complexes.

They also asked Aquino to direct the DOE, PSALM, and NPC to rehabilitate the two complexes through de-siltation or dredging and intensive reforestation program, among others.

In a meeting here last week the Power Alternative Agenda in Mindanao (PALAG) expressed their opposition to the privatization saying the two complexes no longer have debts and are no longer incurring losses. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)