PSALM defends Angat power plant sale

Published by rudy Date posted on May 1, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the government entity tasked to handle the privatization of National Power Corp. assets, said there is nothing illegal with the sale of the Angat hydroelectric power plant.

PSALM made this statement after a number of groups expressed dismay over the government’s move to privatize the 218-megawatt power facility amid growing concern of a prolonged drought due to the El Niño weather phenomenon.

According to PSALM, the sale of the Angat power facility was in line with the provisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), adding that the conduct of the sale was transparent and objective.

The asset management firm also countered the claim of Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) that the sale of the facility, which supplies more than 90 percent of Metro Manila’s drinking water supply, was a “midnight sale.”

“There was nothing controversial about the sale of the Angat facility because PSALM strictly adhered to the provisions of the EPIRA. The controversy stemmed from unfounded speculations by groups who, unfortunately, are misinformed of the sale structure implemented by PSALM for the Angat [hydro],” it pointed out.

PSALM on Wednesday declared Korea Water Resources Corp. (K-Water) as the highest bidder with its $440.88-million offer for the Angat plant.

But FDC and various non-government organizations said awarding the contract to K-Water or any other private bidder at this time would be against public interest.

“There is a significant level of public interest involved in the sale of the Angat [hydro], and the said sale requires due consideration of both the public and our public officials. Proceeding with the sale in the middle of the election period, and in the last two months of an outgoing administration is bad timing, to say the least,” FDC water advocacy coordinator Dianne Roa said.

FDC had earlier urged PSALM to stop the entire bidding process and first address the numerous concerns that have been raised against the impending sale.

On top of concerns regarding Metro Manila’s water security, FDC also raised issues of job security of Napocor employees running the plant, and the security of Angat Dam’s flood and irrigation components. The dam presently provides irrigation for 31,000 hectares of farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga.

The privatization process of the Angat plant was initiated in mid-January this year, amid concerns raised by other users of the multi-purpose Angat Dam. The Commission on Human Rights and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Services (MWSS) both raised concerns that the sale will put at risk the water security of Metro Manila.

However, PSALM noted that the privatization of the Angat plant will not give K-Water the sole authority and discretion to manage the use of water from the Angat Dam.

PSALM stressed that the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) will strictly regulate the use of water based on the Water Code it drafted together with Napocor, MWSS and the National Irrigation Administration. –Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star)

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