House energy panel chair wants to tweak Epira-A A +A
Saturday, September 21, 2013
THE new chairman of the House committee on energy vowed to push for amendments in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) to make the law “consumer-centric."
Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House panel, pointed out that since the Epira was enacted in 2001, power rates were at P4.87 per kilowatt hour. More than 12 years after, electricity rate is already at P13.
“Three months and 12 years after the passage of Epira, it is now time for us to make an honest and truthful assessment of how far the promised reforms have gone, and how much benefits and returns have been realized from our investments in a reformed and restructured power industry,” Umali said.
Epira, which was enacted during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, sought to ensure the affordability of electric power supply.
Epira was also enacted to provide a fair competition and full public accountability by broadening the ownership base of the power generation, transmission and distribution sectors.
“Epira has fallen short of its promise for a stable and reliable supply at a reasonable price. Measured against its own policy objectives and judged by the state of the power industry today – this representation feels that there is a pressing and urgent need to immediately review the Epira,” Umali said.
“The challenge is now upon this Congress to steer the energy sector by adopting policies and enacting laws that will further address the pressing concerns of the energy sector,” he added.
Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone, a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said Epira has failed as the government “seems helpless” over the increase in power rates.
Evardone said once the House energy committee reaches a consensus on proposed amendments to Epira, the panel should request President Benigno Aquino III to tag the measure as a priority bill.
“It’s about that time that Congress should decide on this issue. Epira was intended to deregulate the industry but to some extent, it failed,” he said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)