Palag says selling Agus, Pulangi will increase power rates in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 June) – A coalition today warned privatizing the Agus and Pulangi hydropower complexes would increase electricity rates in Mindanao like in Luzon and the Visayas where most power plants have been privatized.

In a forum at the Marco Polo Hotel, Salvador Feranil, vice president for Southeast Mindanao of the Power Alternative Agenda in Mindanao (Palag) noted that at present we’re enjoying more than P2 per kilowatt-hour in electricity as compared to more than P4 to P7 in Luzon and Visayas.”

But Feranil said this will no longer be the case once the plants are privatized.

Agus and Pulangi supply at least 50% of Mindanao’s electric power.

Speaking last April in Cagayan de Oro City, President Benigno S. Aquino III said that the government was inclined to sell the two facilities reportedly because of losses and high maintenance costs.

The privatization of the country’s power facilities is provided for under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001.

“While the Epira was crafted to supposedly bring down electricity rates, policy implementation tends to show otherwise. Compared to Luzon and Visayas where most power plants have been privatized under the EPIRA, Mindanao has the lowest electricity rate in the country,” Jong Pacanot of the Freedom from Debt Coalition-Southern Mindanao said during the forum.

Epira’s “success story” may lie in the dismantling of monopoly by the government of the power industry but it has still failed to bring about lower rates, Pacanot added.

Feranil said they have already submitted proposals for amending Epira which will be taken up in a congressional hearing on June 25.

City Councilor Pilar Braga added that the city council has passed a series of resolutions asking the Congress to decide against the impending privatization of the Agus and Pulangui facilities and “to seriously start reviewing the Epira”. (JB Tingzon/MindaNews)