Power coops fault Epira on Mindanao power shortage

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014


A TOP ranking officer of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) blamed the power shortage in Mindanao to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001 adding “the shortage has long been a problem due to generation-related issues.”

Sergio Dagooc, president of Amreco, criticized President Benigno Aquino III for accusing the power cooperatives for causing the power shortage in the island.

In a published report, Aquino blamed the cooperatives for failing to purchase generator sets last year to help address the power shortage that has resulted to rotational brownouts that last from two to 16 hours a day in different parts of Mindanao.

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Cagayan de Oro has been experiencing about two to four hours of rotating brownout in two weeks now. It is hoped that the power will be normalized or brownouts reduced on or before May 8 this week.

“I respect the opinion of the President because that is his point-of-view, however it (statement) is wrong,” Dagooc told Sun.Star by phone Monday afternoon adding, “The power shortage has been here for too long.”

Dagooc said the government allotted funds from the Malampaya power plant for the cooperatives to borrow and purchase the generator sets. However, the money could not be easily downloaded from the Department of Budget and Management to the National Electrification Administration (NEA). Only P2-billion out of P4.5-billion had been released to NEA yet.

Dagooc said the funds for the generator sets have only been dispensed about two months ago, and it will take months again to bid for the purchase of the gensets.

He added that after the bidding it would take about 90-100 days to install the generator sets. "And installation does not come easy until the gensets have been approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and file for the generation components for the cost that would undergo several hearings."

He said that a few power coops have gensets already but they are not permitted to install and use them because of the requirements.

“This is not the fault of the president or of the secretary, but this is the fault of Epira,” said Dagooc adding where the national power has contracts and sells the power to them (power coops). These were the effects of implementing Epira.

Dagooc proposed to Energy secretary Jericho Petilla to use the Malampaya fund to buy modular generators where the power would be supplied to the national grid and where private cooperatives buy rather than allow each cooperative to bid and apply.

“Wag na lang tayo magsisihan because we are all victims on this case... kasi this is all because of the EPIRA. Yung generation business ng gobyerno ay tinanggal na ng Epira. Wala na ring magawa ang gobyerno to rescue (Let us stop the blame game because we are all victims on this case... Since this is all because of the Epira. The generation business of the government has been removed by Epira. There is nothing the government can do to rescue),” he said.

Dagooc, however, suggested that amending the Epira and return the generation business to the government. "If the private won’t stand, we won’t be blaming one another. Don’t wait for us (coops) to buy the gensets because the process is too lengthy."

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 06, 2014.

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