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Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Minority Bloc Won’t Back Move to Scrap Amendment to Power Reform Law
Minority Bloc Won’t Back Move to Scrap Amendment to Power Reform Law PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Tuesday, 15 July 2008 22:44

The Senate minority bloc is against moves to shelve the proposed amendments to the Electric Power Reform Industry Act (EPIRA) of 2001.

 

Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said they believe that the amendments to EPIRA are necessary to bring down the cost of electricity and to encourage investors to infuse much-needed capital into the power industry.

 

The House of Representatives’ committee on energy, chaired by Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, has initiated moves to junk the amendments to the EPIRA in their present form.

 

Editor’s Notes: To view the other commentaries of Senator Pimentel about the EPIRA, please go to:

 

Government Should Not Ride on Power Consumers’ Woes to Push Political Agenda

 

Silencing of ABS-CBN Is GMA’s Endgame Behind Threat of MERALCO Takeover

 

Review EPIRA to Protect Customers – Senator Pimentel

 

 

Members of the House committee of energy have signed a manifesto that the proposed revisions to the EPIRA have already been rendered “moot and academic” after industry players agreed to accelerate the implementation of “open access” in the power market when end-users consuming at least one megawatts of electricity can choose their power suppliers.

 

Senator Pimentel said that while there is merit behind this specific reason, it should be emphasized that there are other amendments worth pursuing which cannot just be disregarded altogether.

 

“There is a need to revise the EPIRA despite the stand of Rep. Mikey Arroyo and members of the House committee of energy not to push through with it anymore,” he said.

 

For instance, he said there is a need to discontinue or at least modify, the existing practice of power distributors like the Manila Electric Company, of passing on to consumers their system losses arising from pilferage of electricity and technical malfunctions interruptions.

 

Mr. Pimentel said it would be unconscionable to require the consumers to absorb the system losses, which account for 8 to 9 percent of their monthly power bills, since such losses were incurred not through their fault.

 

“As far as member of the minority bloc are concerned, it is incorrect and unjustified to pass on the system losses to the consumers. If it was Juan who stole the electricity, why should Pedro, who is innocent, be made to pay for it?”

 

Senator Pimentel says that there is a need to discontinue or at least modify, the existing practice of power distributors like the Manila Electric Company, of passing on to consumers their system losses arising from pilferage of electricity and technical malfunctions interruptions.

Instead of adding to the financial burden of consumers, he said power distributors should exert greater efforts in cracking down on power thieves who install jumpers in their power meters to pilfer electricity.

 

Senator Pimentel said there are many other sound amendments initiated by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, principal sponsor of the bill revising the eight-year old EPIRA.

 

In the course of deliberating on the amendment Senator Pimentel said the lawmakers should perhaps resolve once for all the issue of whether to scrap the much-abhorred “take or pay” provision in the government’s supply contracts with Independent Power Producers. This questionable provision guarantees payments for power generated by the IPPs and supplied to the National Power Corporation, even for power in excess of what was actually needed and used.

 

The onerous provision has been blamed as one of the major reasons for the high costs of power in the country. It has led to the ballooning of debts by the NAPOCOR, most of which have been absorbed by the national government.

 

Senator Pimentel said members of Congress will also decide on the proposal to scale down the privatization threshold of the power plants and other assets of NAPOCOR from 70 to 50 percent, as proposed under the bill.

 

Stressing that the lawmakers should be very cautious in deciding whether to pursue the amendments or not, he said it is not even clear at this point whether the inclination of the Mikey Arroyo committee to shelve the EPIRA amendments has the backing of Malacañang. # # #



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Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 July 2008 23:12
 

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