‘Don’t fall for Ramos-style solution to Mindanao power crisis’

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 March) – The government should not use the so-called Ramos-style solution in addressing the reported power crisis in Mindanao “to shield the public from greedy power producers,” a lawmaker today said.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said President Aquino should also investigate Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairperson Sec. Luwalhati Antonino’s accusation that the shortage is artificial and caused by National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) that wanted the Agus power plants privatized.

“What we need now is more government intervention and not more privatization, this is the primary cause of the Mindanao power crisis in the first place and we should not fall in the same trap,”  Casiño said.

“We must also be very careful on this crisis especially when during the Ramos administration, the shortage was taken advantage of by private power firms in connivance with government officials to come up with onerous sweetheart contracts leading to high power rates that we continue to suffer till today,” he said.

Casiño echoed an earlier call for the government to take over two power barges operated by Therma Marine Inc., rehabilitate and expand the Agus hydropower plants, and immediately develop solar and other renewable energy as the long-term solution.

He said the country should tap hydro resources including micro-hydro power facilities which do not require constructing large dams and displacing thousands of people.

He said micro-hydro resources can generate up to 10,500 megawatts (MW) of which only 3,342 MW is currently utilized, adding energy that can be produced from the currents in the seas are also believed to be significant.

“Biomass resources have an estimated collective potential of 920 MW from sugar cogeneration, rice husks, coconut residues and solid wastes from our nation’s municipalities,” he said.

Casiño also cited that wind resources have a technical potential of 7,404 MW of which about 40 MW is now being utilized by Northwind Power Development Corporation.

“Our wind regions are in Batanes, Ilocos Norte, the east-facing coastal locations from Northern Luzon down to Samar island, a wind corridor between Luzon and Mindoro islands and between Mindoro and Panay islands,” he said.

Casiño, however, stressed that solar resources are the most promising with a potential of at least 5.1 kWh/m2/day.

“This is because the average range of hours of sunshine in the Philippines of between 4.3 hours per day in July and August and 8.6 hours per day in April. On balance, there are 2,105 sunshine hours annually and approximately 5.8 sunlight hours for each day the whole year,” he explained. (MindaNews)