|DIE HARD III|
|Herman Tiu Laurel|
While the impeachment show goes on, the thieves are getting away with highway robbery right before the noses of the people. As it has been for the past two-and-a-half-decades, the target of the gigantic burglary are the crown jewels of the nation in the energy sector, this time focused on Mindanao’s electricity sector. Our Mindanao power consumer crusader and second generation power distribution company entrepreneur Mr. Uriel “Jojo” Borja of Iligan Light and Power, called us during the weekend that a two-hour “power curtailment” hit Iligan City last Saturday; but he railed that the Department of Energy (DoE) should already send the power barges 101, 102, 103, 104 to provide emergency power to Mindanao to avoid the power predators’ scheme to justify contracting new power generation capacity at double the cost per kilowatt hour to the present Mindanao power supply for the next twenty-five years.
Current power generation cost in Mindanao averages P2.60/kwH, but if the DoE and Psalm have their way, this will rise to around P 5/kwH, equal to Luzon and Visayas’ generation rate. Mindanao power traditionally cost only half that of other parts of the country because the bulk comes from hydroelectric power plants such as Agus-Pulangui. However, experts have said that the government agencies’ management of these hydroelectric dams and power plants, are failing to optimize its capacity by planned incompetence or willful negligence of corporatists named to head the DoE. Dredging and desilting have not been religiously done, reducing the capacities of these dams; while scheduling release and use of its water reserves for power have been invariably and suspiciously badly timed, exhausting them just as seasonal shortages are expected — seemingly to justify the frequent “red alert” the DoE issues of impending power curtailments.
Since 2009 the DoE has been issuing Mindanao power “red alerts,” citing expected rainfall deficits to be brought about by La Niña or El Niño. But, as Jojo Borja has been reporting, the rains have been coming every year, defying the predictions of the DoE. Last year was also supposed to be dry for Mindanao but Sendong came and devastated Cagayan de Oro and Iligan with a deluge resulting in murderous landslides.
Several weeks ago I wrote and disputed the power shortage “red alert” the DoE and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP, the private company that took over government’s transmission grid). Some people attribute the brownouts in some areas to lack of power transmission connections, but Borja does not see any real power supply shortage. What shortage there is are only short term and seasonal shortages that does not justify contracting new, overpriced power plants.
Napocor has power barges idle in Luzon waiting to be utilized for emergencies but the DoE secretary Almendras announced again last week that these power barges PB 101, 102, 103, 104 will be sold off by March 2012. To a normal, rational and logical mind Almendras’ plan is absolutely ridiculous. Almendras’ plan will cause the same tragic result as the 2009 sale of power barges 117 and 118 to the Aboitiz’s Therma Marine group for $ 30M which it turned around and revalued a few months later at $ 70M and used as its rate base for supplying emergency power to Mindanao — horrendously raising the power cost to consumers. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro has objected to the sale of the power barges in 2009 and continues to object to the present hurried sale. He called for the four power barges still owned by government to be transferred to Mindanao to provide emergency power at the lower cost that Napocor provides, but the DoE is deaf to the plea.
Apart from insisting on selling the four power barges in March, Secretary Almendras of the DoE has opened the way for new power plants to be contracted and set up in Mindanao reminiscent of the IPPs in Luzon of the 90s during Ramos’ time. These will have “take or pay,” Power Purchase Agreements that consumers will see tacked on to their bills whether they use the electricity capacity or not — paying for the next 20 or 25 years. The scam that was inflicted mainly on Luzon in the mid-90s that saddled the country with $18-B Napocor debt, which reamins the same despite 90 percent Napocor assets privatized, is being inflicted on Mindanao this time. There is clearly a well established modus operandi in all this that involves the conspiracy of the international finance Mafia, the corrupt political authorities using the 10-year old Epira.
The Epira law bans government from the electricity generation service. Hence, the IPP power plants bought 10 to 20 years ago transferred to government will have to be sold off dirt cheap. The oligarchs who set up the original exorbitant IPP (independent power plants) will now be the one to buy those same power plants for a song.
We appeal to our dear Filipinos consumers and taxpayers: Wake up to the systematic and massive plunder we are constantly victims of by the conspiracy of the ruling oligarchs and their political agents in the two houses of Congress. Let us not fall into the trap of being mesmerized by political comedies and drama they are staging to distract the nation for their failure to protect the people from the avarice of the present ruling class. Let’s never be distracted again by the weapons of mass distraction the political theater provides; these trapos who spend hours daily grandstanding but give nary a day to hear and inquire into the Philippine scam of the century — the power rip off occurring daily in our midst.
(Tune to 1098AM, DWAD, Mon. to Fri. 5-6pm; watch GNN HTL edition of TNT, Destiny Cable, Saturdays 8:15pm and replay 11:15pm: “The struggle against the Rule of Farce”; visit http://newkatipunero.blogspot.com for our radio and GNN shows)
(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)
Source: The Daily Tribune