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Salivating for Agus-Pulangi DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 04/02/2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

Salivating for Agus-Pulangi

DIE HARD III
Herman Tiu Laurel
04/02/2012
Jojo Borja, one of the major owners of Iligan Light and Power who is at the forefront of the crusade to expose the anomalies of the power privatization caper, reports that a number of his Mindanao colleagues got wind of broadcast interviews where Serge Osmea called for the privatization of the Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric complex. As such longstanding anomalies are a direct result of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), a law that gave rise to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corp., one of Borjas sources, a Psalm executive, naturally doesnt want to be named.

Mindanao is ultra-sensitive to any suggestion of privatizing its treasure that is the Agus-Pulangi complex. As the people there know that greedy and dirty hands are just waiting to grab this wonder of Mindanao away from them, a mere mention of it would be absolutely revolting.

According to Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)s Wilson Fortaleza, who just came from a National Power Corp. (Napocor) Union-sponsored review of Agus-Pulangi, the hydroelectric plants there (which started operations in 1953) are by now fully depreciated. Thus, the electricity that is produced is less than P0.01 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

It is easy to understand Mindanaos aversion to privatization. During the past weeks power crisis in Mindanao, some prominent local officials have cited the privatization of Mt. Apo Geothermal to a Lopez company as an issue. Geothermal energy, according to the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, should only cost anywhere between $0.01 to $0.05/kWh, or from P0.42 to P2.00/kWh on todays exchange rate. But North Cotabato Gov. Emilou Talio-Mendoza and General Santos City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio assert that the private Lopez firm charges a walloping P14/kWh of electricity.

In making his case against government-run power, Senator Osmea said in a March 29 interview that Because government tries to lower the price of electricity a president can order power rates to be lowered to become popular. The case of Mt. Apo Geothermal, however, only shows that privatization has resulted in the population being blackmailed with price gouging rates while the oligarchs sit back and watch the regions economy face disaster without concern.

If we go by Osmeas logic, then government must not and should not be concerned about the peoples welfare; government should make only the power oligarchs interests topmost in its priorities; and government need not bother with the welfare of the national economy where industries that have to bear the highest power cost in Asia can no longer compete with other countries.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chief Lualhati Antonino expressed a deeper suspicion: That the privatized transmission company now called the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) is creating this power crisis to force a privatization of the Agus-Pulangi on the pretext that government has failed.
The likely scenario is that, upon privatization, the Agus-Pulangis less than P0.01/kWh electricity will be sold to Luzon and Visayas for P5.00/kWh when the NGCP lays the submarine cables to link the Mindanao grid back to the islands northward.

Antonino states: I am sorry to say that based on my studies and the researches of my office, I think NGCP is fooling us Where are the power generated by the hydroelectric power generators?... I dont believe it. NGCP is creating an artificial shortage. Niloloko nila tayo (They are fooling us)

International observers today confirm what the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) reported years ago: Under President Corazon Aquino, no new energy generating capacity was added (and) since the 1993 Ramos emergency measures, the cumulative amount of loot that these forces took out of Napocor (totaled) an estimated $2.5 billion to $4 billion, if not more (As this was estimated years ago, it should now stand at $10 billion.)

To continue, the EIR explains (in its article, The Lessons of California and Brazil) that Companies such as Enron, Reliant Energy bid up the price of electricity on the California Electricity Spot Market (like our own Wholesale Electricity Spot Market or Wesm) (driving) up the average price (by) more than a 1,000 percent. It further states that The Philippines Power Reform Bill replicates all the key destructive features of California.

Malacaang resident Noynoyer, PeNoy Aquino, has not offered any solution to the Mindanaoans pleas, except that they should expect contracting power barges that would result in higher electricity rates, saying, You will have to share the burden But would the people and consumers of Mindanao share in the profit, too? No way: Thats because in PeNoys world, profits are only for the oligarchs while the entire burden should be for the consumers.

With the Agus-Pulangi still in public hands, all the people are able to share in the bounties flowing from it. If only government ceases to be captive to the oligarchy, the bounties from renewable power in Mindanao and everywhere in the Philippines can be multiplied a hundred fold. But, as our sad experience with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) tells us, we, the people, must now wait no longer in junking that privatization law to restore the public sectors control of our countrys economic affairs, particularly electricity generation and distribution. Once this is achieved, government can proceed to prioritize more mini and micro-hydro and geothermal development instead of fossil fuel energy.

We shall end with the latest confirmation of the Philippines highest power cost in Asia from the 2011 comparative survey of the Japan External Trade Organization: Manila at $0.23/kWh; Tokyo and Singapore at $0.20/kWh; Sydney at $0.19/kWh; Colombo at $0.18/kWh; Mumbai at $0.16/kWh; Phnom Penh at $0.15/kWh; Hong Kong at $0.14/kWh; Auckland and Taipei at $0.12/kWh; Kuala Lumpur and Karachi at $0.11/kWh; Shenzhen and Chennai at $0.10/kWh; and Jakarta, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and New Delhi at $0.09/kWh.

The survey also confirms what our colleague Butch Junia has always stressed: That contrary to claims by Osmea of government subsidizing power rates, the reason Philippine commercial/industrial rates are not the highest in Asia yet is that these are subsidized by residential consumers, who, even while consuming only 30 percent of the Manila Electric Co.s distributed electricity, contribute to 67 percent of the power companys income by shouldering incredibly high and lopsided rates. Thats subsidy for you, Serge!

(Tune in to 1098AM, dwAD, Sulo ng Pilipino/Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m.; watch Destiny Cable GNNs HTL edition of Talk News TV, Saturdays, 8:15 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11:15 p.m., after Lent, on Mindanao power blackmail? Part II; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our articles plus TV and radio archives)
(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20120402com5.html

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