Casiño: Pres. Aquino should act fast to prevent black out in Mindanao

PARTYLIST Rep. Teddy Casiño today urged the Aquino administration to immediately act on the current power crisis in Mindanao before it gets worse in the summer of 2013, right smack into the elections.

The solon made the call as Joseph Nocos, vice president for business development of Conal Holdings Corp., warned that if the El Niño next year is as worse as 2010, then 10 hour power outages is a possibility.

“The government should immediately step in to avert the Mindanao power crisis because it may develop into a full blown economic and political crisis for the whole country. To avoid this crisis the Aquino administration should adopt the following measures to address the current Mindanao power crisis:

– Accelerate the rehabilitation of all the Agus hydro plants not producing their designed capacity (Agus 1, 2, 4, 6), accelerate the implementation of the Balo-i flood control project and rehabilitation of the Pulangui plant to produce at least 254 megawatts of cheap, renewable energy

– Accelerate the construction of renewable energy power plants instead of coal plants. The National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) pegs geothermal potential at 290 MW, plus a current capacity of 103 MW, and 50 MW worth of approved projects projected to be online by 2014.  Current hydropower capacity is at 1080 MW, with 1263.9 MW pegged as targeted additional capacity.  Wind potential is pegged at 336 MW, biomass with 36.8 MW waiting to be implemented, and solar power estimated at 5 KW hours per square meter.

– In the short term, temporarily take-over the privatized power barges 117 and 118 of Therma Marine, Inc. and allow it to provide at least 120MW of power at much lower rates. Work for the voiding of the sale of said power barges on the basis of the irregularities surrounding it.

– Compel PSALM-NPC to deploy its power barges to Mindanao to take up the power shortfall while additional capacity is being created from renewable energy sources,” said the Makabayan senatorial bet.

“The proposed Interim Electricity Market in Mindanao (IMEM) will not do and would in fact aggravate the problem because this would definitely jack up power rates in the island. What would happen is that the island has power but consumers would be blackmailed into buying it at a high price,” he added.

““In fact at the onset the IMEM will mean a 30 centavo increase per kilowatt hour in Mindanao to finance the P50 million needed to implement this scheme. But why should consumers shoulder this amount while power companies prosper? There is also danger that it may be manipulated by power players, similar to the speculation game happening with the WESM. I hope that Pres. Aquino would heed my proposals to address the power problem before it is too late,” said Casiño.

Casiño also said that given Mindanao’s massive potential for renewable energy and even with the El Niño; it would be cheaper to develop these than again rely on expensive and dirty diesel and coal technologies. He is the author of House Bill 5405 or the One Million Solar Roofs Act to address the Mindanao power crisis and looming shortage in Luzon.

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