Bukidnon stakeholders: Privatize Pulangi IV, we’ll buy it

MALAYBALAY CITY – If the privatization of the Pulangi IV becomes inevitable, a corporation representing Bukidnon’s electric power cooperatives and local government units will buy it to “ultimately solve the power crisis, among others,” said a resolution filed by the Bukidnon Power Commission (BPC) to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM).

“The Bukidnon Power Commission (BPC) hereby support the immediate privatization and endorse the acquisition of Pulangi IV by registered distribution utilities in the Province of Bukidnon and relentlessly pursue all available legal and peaceful means,” the commission said in its resolution on August 11, in the event of the 2nd Bukidnon Power Summit.

The BPC, created by Gov. Alex Calingasan in March 2011 as an offshoot of the 1st Bukidnon Power Summit in January 2011, is composed of the electric cooperatives and the local government units in Bukidnon.

“Bukidnon Stakeholders shall be accorded the right of first refusal in the acquisition of Pulangui IV,” the stakeholders said in the resolution.

Calingasan convened the summit in January to assert the province’s agenda in power supply use following the Department of Energy’s department circular no. DC2010-10 0211 ordering NPC-PSALM to “fully utilize all available capacities of hydroelectric power plants in Mindanao for energy purposes.”

The stakeholders asked the National Power Corporation and the PSALM during the first summit to prioritize Bukidnon as they asserted that their power demand requirement be met first before the supply from the Pulangui IV hydroelectric power plant is fed to the Mindanao Grid.

The present position of the BPC has veered away from the group’s original stand to oppose the privatization, said Edgardo Masongsong, Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative general manager, who is also president of the Amreco Power Supply Aggregation Group (PSAG) Corporation.

But he clarified via telephone that 21-member Association of Mindanao Electric Cooperatives (AMRECO) has remained opposed to the privatization.

He said the Bukidnon Power Commission is now pushing for privatization and a negotiated sale to a corporation the Bukidnon stakeholders will form. It was floated in the summit that the firm be named the Bukidnon Power Corporation.

“The deferment for the privatization of Pulangi IV will further result to a shortfall of electricity and the Province of Bukidnon and Southern Mindanao will be faced with a perennial problem of power shortage,” the BPC added in the resolution.

The BPC has trained its eye on sourcing at least P2 billion for the 20 percent down payment if the power complex is sold, Raul Alkuino, board vice president of the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative, told Bukidnon News via telephone.

He said they have considered a guarantee program to finance the project but he did not elaborate.

He vowed that the move will make local stakeholders take control of the power rates.

One thing the BPC is trying to do in the decision to call for immediate privatization and the acquisition plan is to preempt the privatization or sale of Pulangi IV to independent power producers, according to the resolution.

The sale of the power complex to IPPs, they said, “is actually selling the Filipino people to the capitalists at the expense of the poor, which is the majority of the Filipino people.

They argued that such action could mean possible private monopoly.

They argued that privatization and acquisition of Pulangi IV by IPPs might attract “big domestic and multinational monopolies in power generation” with the prospect of bigger profits through higher power rates.

The BPC said they also wanted to ensure transparent and reasonable prices of electricity in the province “in a regime of free and fair competition and full public accountability to achieve greater operational and economic efficiency in Southern Mindanao.”

“And protect the public interest as it is affected by the rates and services of electric utilities and other providers of electric power,” they added.|

The BPC also pushed for “fair and non-discriminatory treatment of local sectors” in the process of restructuring the electric power industry.

“To enhance the inflow of capital and broaden the ownership base of the local sectors specifically the electric consumers who are the real owners of the distribution utilities,” the BPC added in the resolution.

The BPC vowed that their decision is aimed to moderate any price adjustment of power to encourage investment considering the importance of power in the pursuit for genuine economic development.

The BPC also expressed intent to find a way to bring Pulangi IV back to the 255-megawatt capacity after it operated in a lower capacity due to siltation.

On the issue of the indigenous people’s rights, the BPC vowed to ensure the collective rights of the Indigenous People (IPs) are “upheld and promoted and that the energy resources of Southern Mindanao is used and managed in a sustainable manner bound by the principles of sustainable development and social justice”.

The resolution cited that Mindanao is projected to be short of 484 megawatts by 2014.

“The continuing generation deficiency in the Mindanao grid will compel the system to curtail the power load transmitted to electric cooperatives.

The BPC opined that private power producers are apprehensive to set up new plants until the Agus and Pulangi Hydroelectric Plants are sold and or until circumstances make clear whether or not their business interest will vest within a time limit.

“The populace of the Province of Bukidnon and the whole Mindanao would eventually (be) directly affected socially and economically by the consequences of the privatization and sale of Pulangi IV to Independent Power Producers (IPPs),” they said in the resolution. (Walter I. Balane)

See more stories on Bukidnon, visit: www.mindanews.com

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