Kidapawan women’s coalition wants priority power dispatch to Cotelco

KIDAPAWAN CITY (April 11/Thursday) – A coalition of at least 34 women’s organizations in North Cotabato has urged the Department of Energy (DoE) to dispatch to the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) the 25-percent emergency load dispatch from the two geothermal power plants located in Mount Apo.

The Kidapawan City-Local Council of Women (KC-LCW), in a manifesto, said they are joining the growing number of groups claiming the rights of residents in the host city and province for the 25-percent priority load dispatch from the power plants.

The city hosts the Mindanao Geothermal Production Field, which is owned by the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), located at Barangay Ilomavis here.

The two geothermal power plants have a total capacity of 104MW.

The EDC is set to build its third 50-MW geothermal power plant. Its construction, however, is still held in abeyance pending compliance of all social contracts and pertinent requirements, reports said.

The coalition cited as basis in their claim Section 6 of the Department of Energy Act of 1992, which states that “In times of energy shortage, the energy-generating facility shall prioritize up to 25 percent of its contracted or available capacity (whichever is lower), which shall be delivered to the appropriate electric utility for distribution to the official settlement or relocation sites, to the relevant LGU or host-region.”

This fact, KC-LCW stressed, afforded the host city its rightful benefits to the load in times of emergency or energy crisis.

“It is silly for us to tolerate the raking of profits of big private power corporations like the EDC while our people, especially the women, are heavily burdened of daily rotational brownouts. It is also ironical for Kidapawan City, host of the two geothermal plants, yet its constituents suffer 6 to 8-hour daily rotational brownouts,” the coalition told Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla.

In May 2012, several attempts to claim this preferential rights were pushed by various groups, both the LGUs and consumer groups, including the business sector.

“The efforts, however, seemed to have ended up futile,” KC-LCW said.

Thus, the group issued a manifesto which they sent to Petilla on April 5.

The coalition, however, said they did not receive any note that such letter reached the secretary.

KC-LCW has also stood firm on its recommendation for the scrapping or repeal of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) or Republic Act 9136.

The law, passed on June 8, 2011, was aimed at bringing down electricity rates and to improve delivery of power supply to end-users by encouraging greater competition and efficiency in the electricity industry.

This, according to KC-LCW, did not happen.

“The EPIRA has ironically doubled electricity rates, aggravated by the inclusion of numerous charges and system losses in the billing,” it said.

The group also alleged EPIRA has opened the industry into “monopoly.”

“Only few names of big corporations, many with foreign partners, dominate the power industry nowadays,” it said.

Based on the data KC-LCW presented to Petilla, as of October 2010, at least 92 percent of the generation assets of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) had been sold to private sectors.

This covers 26 power plants, including their assets.

“Also, the Napocor remained heavily indebted with only $570 million loan repayments in 2010 from its 2001 calculated foreign debt of $16.39 billion. The firm’s foreign debt is still a significant 15 percent of the government’s outstanding debts,” it added.

The KC-LCW is a coalition of 34 women organizations in the city whose formation was based on provisions under Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 and other existing laws which govern women’s mainstreaming and participation in local governance. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)