EPIRA amendment sought to solve Mindanao power crisis
Dennis Carcamo (The Philippine Star) - July 28, 2014 - 11:55am

MANILA, Philippines - Two lawmakers have sought the amendment of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to allow the government to generate and sell power or electricity from renewable energy sources.

Under House Bill 4422, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and younger brother Abante Mindanao partylist Rep. Maximo Rodriguez, said the government would have the power to purchase electricity through bilateral contracts with generation companies or other suppliers.

The two lawmakers cited a statement of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives, which attributed the rotating brownouts to “largely the effect of EPIRA."

The EPIRA provides the National Power Corporation may generate and sell electricity only from the undisposed generating assets and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) contracts of PSALM Corp. and shall not incur any new obligations to purchase power through bilateral contracts with generation companies or other suppliers.

The bill provides that “The government through the NPC or any other government-owned or –controlled corporation shall be authorized to generate and sell power or electricity to generate from renewable energy sources as defined in RA 9513, otherwise known as the ‘Renewable Energy Act of 2008,’ and to incur new obligations to purchase power through bilateral contracts with generation companies or other suppliers.”

They said it is high time the government seriously focuses on generating other sources or energy in light of the present energy problem.

The elder Rodriguez said the law provides it is the policy of the State to “accelerate the exploration and development of renewable energy resources such as, but not limited to biomass, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and ocean energy sources, including hybrid systems, to achieve energy self-reliance, through the adoption of sustainable energy development strategies to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels..."

“It is therefore imperative that all avenues be considered when it comes to renewable energy,” he said.

He cited a Department of Energy report on the 2013 power supply-demand outlook, which noted that the Mindanao grid has been experiencing “undergeneration” since 2001.

It also said that half of the region’s plants are hydroelectric and depends on “the availability of water and affected by weather conditions.”

Mindanao needs 1,600 megawatts (MW) of additional power to “meet the electricity demand and the required reserve margin of the grid," the report added.

“These very dark projections can actually be already felt on the island as parts of Mindanao are now suffering from 10 to 12 hours of rotating power blackouts,” he said.

Rodriguez said there has been no dramatic improvement in Mindanao’s power situation since the DOE issued its outlook.

The DOE also reported the region’s power supply of 1,064 MW was 158 MW short of its peak demand of 1,222 MW according to Rodriguez.

ABANTE MINDANAO ASSOCIATION OF MINDANAO RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ELECTRIC POWER INDUSTRY REFORM ACT ENERGY INDEPENDENT POWER PRODUCERS MAXIMO RODRIGUEZ MINDANAO NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION POWER
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