Co-ops seek Duterte’s help in their plan to engage in power generation

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 April) – A group of cooperatives in Mindanao appealed to President Rodrigo R. Duterte to support their plan to construct a hydropower plant in Agusan del Sur and bid for the Agus and Pulangi hydropower complexes.

Edgardo T. Silagan, chairperson of the 1 Mindanao Energy Cooperatives (1MIECOOP), told “Wednesdays at Habi at Kape” that this is the first time for cooperatives to venture into power generation, a field already dominated by a few large players.

“Mr. President, we, the Mindanao-based cooperatives want to own the hydropower plants which we hope you would support because this will give us social justice, equitable distribution of wealth, peace and prosperity, and job generation,” he said.

He said putting the hydropower plants under the management of the cooperatives instead of the major players will bring down the cost of electricity.

“If under the cooperatives, the board of directors and even the members will have the say not to increase the electricity costs,” he said.

The 2001 Energy Power Reform Act has excluded the privatization of Agus and Pulangi hydropower complexes for 10 years, or until 2011, but the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management moved the privatization to this year.

Majority of hydropower source comes from the state-run Agus and Pulangi hydropower complexes with an installed capacity of 982.1-mw and composed of seven plants – Agus 1, Agus 2, Agus 4, Agus 5, Agus 6, Agus 7, and Pulangui 4.

Rhoda Ruth Pillerin, member of the board of directors of the 1MIECOOP, said she believes the cooperatives can pool enough funds to acquire Agus and Pulangi and even construct a new hydropower plant.

She said they can do it because many of its members are billionaire cooperatives.

At present, 1MIECOOP has 35 members with a combined asset of P20 billion.

“At the end of the day, this would be a dream come true for the energy sector if this is going to happen. We want to democratize the energy sector which is being controlled by a few families,” she said.

She said energy generation is a “lucrative investment” and opening the industry to the cooperatives will enable regular members to become part owners of new power projects.

Silagan said they are awaiting the response of the Department of Energy to their letter of intent sent in September 2016, expressing their interest to bid for Agus and Pulangi and construct a power plant in Agusan River.

He said they are getting technical support from the Engineering and Development Corporation of the Philippines in complying with the requirements to construct a power plant, initially a 20-MW hydro plant in Loreto, Agusan del Sur. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)