Mindanao Power Corp. backers push for law ahead of Agus-Pulangi privatization

Posted on November 04, 2016

DAVAO CITY -- The government is planning to bid out its two hydroelectric complexes in Mindanao, the Agus and Pulangi, by 2018 the latest, according to the head of the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC), but opponents of the privatization plan aim to push for an earlier passage of a law that will create the Mindanao Power Corp. (MinPoCor) to take over the facilities.

Glenn Jay A. Reston, acting head of the multi-sectoral MPCM, said initiatives are being taken to push for the refiling of bills to establish the MinPoCor, a government-owned and controlled agency that will manage the two power assets, and ensure competitive power rates in Mindanao.

A consolidated bill on the creation of MinPoCor has passed the committee level at the House of Representatives in the previous Congress, but the counterpart bill in the Senate was opposed by Senator Sergio R. Osmeña III who chaired the energy committee.

“(MinPoCor) will help maintain affordable electricity rates in Mindanao and assure that the revenues earned will also be reinvested in the island,” Mr. Reston said in an interview.

He cited that power coming from the government-run hydroelectric plants has a generation rate of about P3 per kilowatt-hour (/kWh), a little more than half of the private sector generation rate of about P5.50/kWh.

The Agus and Pulangi have a combined installed capacity of 982 megawatts, and can continue to be among the main baseload power plants in the southern island when rehabilitated.

The rehabilitation work has been initially estimated to cost at least P4.94 billion.

Mindanao business leaders passed a resolution supporting MinPoCor’s establishment during the 24th Mindanao Business Conference in 2015.

The privatization of the two hydro-electric plants is provided under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, and was initially planned in 2011.

However, both private sector stakeholders and public officials in Mindanao opposed the move, mainly due to power rate concerns. The privatization was also put on hold in consideration of the tight power supply in the south beginning 2010. -- Carmelito Q. Francisco