Electric coops seek changes to EPIRA
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Electric cooperatives around the country are pushing for crucial amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) in the next Congress to bring down power rates and make the landmark power reform law attuned to the needs of consumers.

National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives president Sergio Dagooc said the 2001 power reform measure must be pro-consumer and not pro-business.

For one, cooperatives are pushing for the repeal of a provision in the law that allows cross-ownership in generation and distribution.

Cooperatives also want amendments to a  provision that  bars government from operating its own power plants to ensure that plant operators do not collude to jack up prices.

They are also pushing for the exclusion of Mindanao hydro assets in the government’s privation program as well as the creation of the Mindanao Power Corp., an entity similar to the National Power Corp. to ensure that prices remain affordable.

Dagooc said pushing for such amendments is an uphill battle in a pro-business Congress.

As such, the country’s electric cooperatives are backing the senatorial bid of former energy secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla to champion their cause.

Dagooc believes that Petilla has a deep understanding of the problems plaguing the energy sector especially small power users.

Serving close to 50 million Filipinos especially in far-flung areas not reached by big distribution utilities, the country’s top electric cooperatives are aware that the cross-ownership provision is the worst of EPIRA’s defects.

“By allowing power producers to also be in the distribution business made the industry prone to abuse” Dagooc said.

He said removing the cross ownership provision would open the market, make it more responsive to consumers and promote a level playing field.

Dagooc added that government should still be able to run and operate back-up plants to maintain balance in the market and prevent collusion among power plant operators.

“There are many amendments we want to push. For instance, government should still be able to run back-up plants. What do we do if most, if not all, power operators decide to shut down or raise prices at the same time?” Dagooc said.

Electric cooperatives are also seeking the exclusion of the Agus and Pulangi hydro power complexes including steam field assets and generating pants at the geothermal complexes from the privatization next year as mandated by EPIRA.

 

ACIRC AGUS AND PULANGI CARLOS JERICHO PETILLA COOPERATIVES DAGOOC ELECTRIC POWER INDUSTRY REFORM ACT MINDANAO POWER CORP NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GENERAL MANAGERS OF ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES NATIONAL POWER CORP POWER SERGIO DAGOOC
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