APC says time is right for Agus, Pulangi rehab

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DAVAO CITY — One of the biggest power companies in Mindanao, Aboitiz Power Corp. (APC), has called for the rehabilitation of the two government-run hydroelectric complexes now that the southern island has surplus supply from new coal-fired power plants.

APC President and Chief Executive Officer Antonio R. Moraza, speaking at the 4th Davao Investment Conference Friday here, said it is an opportune time to extensively overhaul the Agus and Pulangi power complexes, whose combined output has been reduced to about 400 megawatts (MW) from its installed capacity of 727 MW, based on data from the Mindanao Development Authority.

“With all the supply coming into Mindanao today, it may be time for the government to finally decide on the fate of the Agus complex (and Pulangi). Perhaps it is time for these old power plants to be rehabilitated,” Mr. Moraza said, noting that some of the power generation units in these facilities were built in the 1950s.

Based on government projections, Mindanao’s power supply will be in surplus by about 1,000 MW by the end of the year.

Mr. Moraza added that government must immediately undertake a study as to the best scheme for going about the rehabilitation.

Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, publicly-owned facilities must be privatized and the two hydropower plants are the only ones remaining in government hands.

Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said the government is open to the possibility of funding the rehabilitation work, estimated to cost at least P5 billion, before turning it over to a private operator.

Mindanao leaders, both in the private and public sectors, have previously raised opposition to privatization saying it will result in higher energy rates.

Among the proposed alternatives is the creation of a government-owned Mindanao Power Corp. that will operate the two facilities. The bill filed in Congress for this remains pending.

APC, through its subsidiaries, has several coal and hydropower generation facilities in Mindanao as well as two electricity distribution firms, one in Davao and the other in Cotabato. — Carmelito Q. Francisco