March 2, 2010
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) called on Congress to repeal the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and to once again place the power sector under state control. The call came amid reports of power shortage and rotating brownouts in various parts of the country.
“Instead of seeking emergency powers and entering into expensive negotiated power contracts, the national government must endeavor to regain control of the power sector and undertake a serious energy plan,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“All this talk of emergency powers and state intervention only shows the utter folly and failure of the privatized power regime. For several years now, we have placed the energy security of the country in the hands of private investors, mainly foreign private investors. And since these investors think it is not profitable to invest in the country because of low power rates, we end up facing a power shortage,” Reyes said.
Bayan believes that it is the obligation of the State to ensure energy security by coming up with an accurate estimate of demand and by coming up with a plan to meet these demands. It also cited the case of Luzon where no back up power is available after several plants experienced problems.
Under the EPIRA, government is mandated to sell all its generation assets and to lease the transmission assets. New power plants are expected to be put up as a result of private investments. Government will no longer set up new power plants.
“If there is anything a special session of Congress should address, it should be the repeal of the EPIRA and the regaining of government control over the power sector. We cannot place the energy security of the country in the hands of private firms whose main motivation is the profit. We have seen the reality that if they will not profit, they will not invest. EPIRA has placed us at the mercy of private interests and their profits,” Reyes said.
Bayan also warned that negotiated energy contracts will again place consumers at the long-term losing end.
“While emergency powers may appear to address short-term power supply needs through emergency contracts, the long-term effects could be debilitating for consumers. The power rates under negotiated contracts are being projected as three times regular rates. Consumers will be made to suffer in the future because the present government failed to meet power demands and had to rely on emergency contracts,” Reyes said.
“The power shortage under the EPIRA regime will go down as another legacy of the Arroyo government. If we want an end to the power crisis, government should rethink the whole idea of privatizing power,” Reyes added. #