Chiz finds DOE’s proposal to hike power rates in Mindanao ‘unacceptable’

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 April) – Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero finds “unacceptable” the proposal of the Department of Energy that Mindanaoans should settle for higher power rates than suffer prolonged, if not regular, daily brownouts.

He said he does not agree to the DOE’s proposition that Mindanao only has two choices – cheap electricity but with the frequent brownouts, or reliable supply of electricity but expensive.

Escudero, together with fellow senatorial candidate Grace Poe-Llamanzares, was in the city Wednesday on a blitzkrieg campaign where he only visited two radio stations and engaged media in a 22-minute press conference before proceeding to Butuan City.

The solon said Mindanao and its people have more valid choices to demand for a “cheap” and “available” power source because it uses an “energy mix” that is environmentally sound and cheaper compared to the more costly and environmentally hazardous coal power plants.

“Mindanao still has the cheapest power rate in the country and has a comparative advantage because of the energy mix used to generate power,” the senator said.

He further urged Mindanaoans to fight for this advantage. He said the right approach is not to sell the hydroelectric plants along the Agus and Pulangi rivers but to rehabilitate them.

This city and the province of Surigao del Norte is now on a three-hour rotational brownouts daily. But other areas in Mindanao even have longer brownouts.

On Monday, the National Power Corporation warned that rotating brownouts in Mindanao will further worsen next month with the summer season as the water level in Lake Lanao will decrease. NPC said the decreasing water level will force it to limit power generation from the 700-megawatt Agus power complex.

The announcement came on the heels of a DOE proposal to create the Interim Electricity Market in Mindanao (IMEM), which will reportedly cause power rates to increase by 30 centavos per kilowatt hour.

But the senator does not see the reported solution believing that the energy department should instead “immediately conduct a study on the viability of self-generating capacity.” (Vanessa L. Almeda / MindaNews)