Cojuangco sparks uproar over nuke plant reactivation

Published by rudy Date posted on February 11, 2009

Consumers will bear the burden of repairing the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant under a proposal put forward yesterday by Rep. Mark Cojuangco of Pangasinan.

Cojuangco proposed that consumers pay 10 centavos a kilowatt-hour for two years after his colleagues rejected his request for a $1-billion allocation for the nuclear plant.

During a hearing of the House committee on appropriation, chaired by Quirino Rep. Junie Cua, Cojuangco was rebuffed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman for failing to submit a feasibility study on the rehabilitation and activation of the mothballed power plant.

“We cannot possibly grant you the $1-billion appropriation since you cannot even justify where the funding would go, “ said Lagman, senior vice chairman of the committee. “Where is the feasibility study?”

Cojuangco’s suggestion that consumers foot the bill drew the vehement protest from Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros.

“That is illegal and anomalous. We cannot charge 10 centavos for something that the consumers have not used up. We bill them for the nuclear plant even before it produces power? That’s questionable and unfair,” Hontiveros said.

Cojuangco appeared at a loss for words on how to convince his colleagues to support his bill to activate the BNPP, which was built in 1976 and remained a white elephant, unutilized but eating up tax money for loan payments.

Lagman asked Cojuangco for how long does Cojuangco think the consumers would be burdened by the 10-centavo-kwh charge.

Cojuangco said the rehabilitation would take at least two years before the BNPP goes on stream.

The $1-billion funding could come from borrowings, Cojuangco said.

Lagman said the committee would not provide funding for Cojuangco’s bill for as long as he could not justify where and how the $1 billion would be used.

Cojuangco said he was “open” to amendments on his bill.

The hearing on his bill would resume next week.–Christine Herrera, Manila Standard Today

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