PNOY asked to appoint RDR as mindanao energy czar

april 23-29, 2012

Calls and endorsements have started to snowball that for Mindanaoans to secure their power needs and protect the hydropower systems that have made the power rates in the island to be affordable compared to the rest in the country, Mindanao needs someone who is qualified, competent and credible leader like Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario to become the island’s power czar who would elbow with President PNoy Aquino III.
Yamas Development Corporation board secretary Yul Yamas said that the governor is fitted to become the Mindanao power czar “as he has a quality of an excellent leader and widest experience.”
Yamas is not alone in the Tagum City’s business sector to endorse RDR for the post which power-weary businessmen said is “a must” to be created by the President as Cabinet-level position given his recent announcement of wanting to dialogue and consult further with Mindanao officials, civil society and consumer groups about the island’s power crisis.
The governor’s recent perspectives on the power crisis convey his comprehensive and expert views on the situation, observers  from business commented.
Alcarich Water entrepreneur Carlito Pellirin gave his strong endorsement to the governor saying he has no doubt about the governor’s capability and statemanship.  
The President has lately earned flaks for his  comments during the Mindanao energy summit  in Davao City the other week where he said that for Mindanaons to have continuous power supply they would have to brace and pay for higher power rates.
The President’s statements came amid the vocal opposition of various sectors in Mindanao including governors to the plan to privatize the Agus hydropower complex (Agus 1 to 7) in Lanao del Sur and Pulangi hydropower complex (Pulangi 1 to 4) in Maramag, Bukidnon per Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).
During the summit, Gov. Del Rosario, being the president of the Mindanao confederation of governors, conveyed the governors’ stand to the President.
The President , during the summit, said that selling Agus and Pulangi plants was part of the solution to Mindanao’s power crisis.
Last week, the governors reiterated their opposition to the sale and insisted that amendments to Epira were among the ways out of the crisis.
The governors reiterated their position a day after the President said he was willing to dialogue further with Mindanao’s stakeholders on the power crisis.
“Let’s shatter the myth that the Napocor (National Power Corp.) and the Agus-Pulangi complex are a losing proposition,” Del Rosario said.
If it is any indication that generating power is not a losing venture for government, Del Rosario presented what he said was Napocor’s income last year—P36.9 billion in annual gross generation revenue and an average profit margin of P73.2 billion.
Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel said instead of selling the power plants, the government should rehabilitate these, which is what exactly government plans to do with Agus 6 and Pulangi which might cost P9 billion and take 30 months.
Agusan del Sur Gov. Eddiebong Plaza said selling the two hydropower plants could lead to unreasonable rates and monopoly.
Del Rosario said Napocor should rescind its Operational Management Agreement  with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), which required Napocor to remit all its earnings to PSALM, including those from the Agus and Pulangui hydropower plants.
“It is high time that Napocor rescind this contract and be allowed to run its affairs,” Del Rosario said.
He said Epira has been a bane to Mindanao for the last 11 years and should be reviewed by Congress.
He said selling the hydropower plants to the private sector would simply worsen the situation.
“It is bad enough as it is. It will be intolerable once it is surrendered to the private sector,” he said.
Del Rosario also called for the reclassification of power generation firms as “utilities” and place a cap on these firms’ profits. He said some independent power producers  earn up to 50-percent return on rate base, “which is too much.”
“Just a 1-centavo per kilowatt-hour increase imposed nationally translates into a P670-million annual income,” said the governor, adding it was time for Mr. Aquino to appoint a Mindanao consumer group representative to the Energy Regulatory Commission. (cm with PDI report)

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