Press Release
February 17, 2010

Villar calls for EPIRA full implementation

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar yesterday called for the full implementation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to solve the worsening power shortage in Visayas and other parts of the country.

Visayas now faces a threat of regular power outages as major plants supplying the Visayas grid undergo maintenance services and repairs resulting into frequent rotational outages in some areas.

"By now, the government should have developed contingency plans and long-term measures to address this problem in the region, especially if it will prevent the growth of industries," Villar said.

The senator said a long-term solution to the power shortage in Visayas as well as in the rest of the country is a full implementation of the EPIRA, which will open the market for more investors in the power industry.

Villar was one of those who voted for the approval of the said law in 2001, which he believed would ensure affordable and reliable electricity to all power consumers in the country.

He however laments that for the most part, the pace of reforms called for by EPIRA has been slower.

As of April 2009, only 17 generating or operating plants were successfully bid out with a combined capacity of 2,172.3 MW.

Fifteen (15) of these 17 plants represent about 2,167.20 MW total capacity of operating NPC/PSALM-owned plants in the Luzon and Visayas grids, which translates to about 57.4 percent privatization level.

Villar said that this is not enough and pushed for a full implementation of the EPIRA or the country will face a power shortage that could cripple the economy and affect the people.

"And this is now happening in some parts of the country, particularly in the Visayas where a power shortage could inhibit the growth of certain industries there," he said.

He said that in Cebu alone, players in the information and communications technology (ICT) have expressed concern that the power supply in the region might not sustain the growth of the sector.

Villar explained that the ICT sector's concerns should be taken seriously by the government, as the power shortage could also adversely affect the region's manufacturing and tourism industries.

According to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), only Unit 2 of the Mahanagdong geothermal plant in Leyte with a capacity of 60 megawatts has resumed operations as of February 10.

It said the plant's 60-MW Unit 1 is still undergoing maintenance. The whole 120-MW plant underwent preventive maintenance that started in January 30.

Also, the 50-MW Cebu Thermal Power Plant 1 (CTPP1) was also shut down because of preventive maintenance, further decreasing the power supply in the Visayas grid.

"This could be potentially disastrous for the economies of the provinces in the region, as the Department of Energy itself warned of more power outages in the Visayas because of thinning reserves," Villar said.

Visayas presently has a power demand of 967 MW but the government's Power Development Plan indicates that the region will require an extra 2,283 MW in the next five years.

Three power plants are planned to be built - two in Toledo City, Cebu in the next two years while another coal-fired plant will be constructed in Iloilo City.

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