Two decades after the government let go of generating power, it’s considering a return in order to boost power reserves in the wake of thin supply, especially during the peak months.
In the hearing of the Joint Congressional Energy Commission on Tuesday, Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi said that the plan is to have the government build and operate the plant as a reserve, then have it privatized along the way.
One example he cited was that of the Casecnan hydroelectric power plant in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, which the government could take over and operate as a reserve.
Government-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) has been working with the Asian Development Bank to evaluate privatization options for Casecnan.
Cusi also pointed out that the definite high demand for power as the country tries to reopen will again be a challenge for industry players. He recognized that although industry players are working hard, they need to do more.
Should the DOE push for the plan, it would require an amendment of Republic Act 9136 or the Energy Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 that privatized the power sector. Nonetheless, Cusi added that the DOE is exploring if another government-owned firm PNOC-Exploration Corporation can carry out the proposal.
In privatizing the power sector via EPIRA, the government hoped for lower power rates. However, this has yet to be achieved.
As of last year, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines has contracted only 727 megawatts (MW) of the needed 2,604MW in ancillary reserves, or the power used when transporting energy to consumers. This eventually leads to system losses, which are charged to consumers’ electricity bills.