Consumer group doubts power supply crisis in Mindanao

Published by rudy Date posted on March 7, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – EmPower Consumers Alliance has raised doubts on government‘s pronouncements of a power supply crisis in Mindanao, saying it could be a play to force the use of nuclear energy and raise power rates.

Upon the recommendation of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, President Arroyo on Friday declared a power crisis in Mindanao. She has also adopted the energy chief’s recommendation to invoke Sec. 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act allowing Congress to authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under terms and conditions that it will approve.

Some parts of Luzon like Metro Manila have also been experiencing rotating brownouts lately due to an alleged power shortage in the grid.

“First of all, we doubt the veracity of claims by the Department of Energy and Malacañang that there is power shortage in the country,” EmPower said.

According to the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), a co-convenor of EmPower, there is still a huge energy surplus in the country, citing DOE figures for year 2008 which indicate a surplus of about 4,000 megawatts based on 13,049 MW dependable capacity and peak demand of only about 9,054 MW.

“We have a growing suspicion that the energy crisis could be hoax and just being created by the government to justify he need for nuclear power plants in the country and to enter into new contracts with the independent power producers (IPPs),” said FDC secretary general Milo Tanchuling.

“What the government should do instead is conduct a technical review of National Power Corp. plants especially the IPP plants,” he added.

Instead of giving emergency powers to the President, the group instead called for an “immediate and thorough investigation and participatory planning.”

The umbrella alliance of electricity consumer groups urged Congress – before it even considers granting emergency powers to the President or allow government to enter into ominous contracts with the independent power producers (IPPs) to address the so-called power crisis – to instead conduct a thorough investigation of the energy situation in the country, stressing the participation of electricity consumers in this process.

“The participation of electricity consumers in decisions that address the present energy situation is very important since we are always made to bear in the end the impact of these decisions. We do not want a repeat of the solution to enter into contracts with IPPs even when they were so onerous and to the detriment of the public” emphasized EmPower.

In Mindanao, the Lanao Power Consumers Federation also raised doubts on the energy crisis claim by the government. “The power shortage may be true, but we are also in

the dark as to the real truth on the energy situation in Mindanao,” its president Melchie Ambalong said.

“For all we know, this situation is being manipulated to increase power rates since this power shortage scenario has long been painted to us and the government saw justification for this with the present El Nino,” he added. –Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star)

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