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Agus-Pulangi rehab, Minpocor creation get backing from NEA chief


National Electrification Administration (NEA) chief Edgardo Masongsong expressed optimism that the rehabilitation of the Agus-Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plant (HEPP) as embodied in the proposed measure creating the Mindanao Power Corporation (Minpocor) will gain traction in the 17th Congress.
Speaking to reporters in Misamis Oriental recently, Masongsong said electric cooperatives in Mindanao are actively pushing for both facilities to remain under state control through a new corporate entity instead of giving them up for privatization.
The NEA administrator is aware that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) mandates the government to sell its capital-intensive power generation assets, but he believes it should make an exception for the Agus-Pulangi HEPP in the interest of Mindanao stakeholders.
“Sana ang Agus at Pulangi maging government-owned and -controlled corporation pero nasa pangangalaga ng Minpocor,” Masongsong said at the sidelines of the 38th Annual General Membership Assembly of the Misamis Oriental II Electric Cooperative, Inc. last week.
Masongsong pushed for the creation of Minpocor during his stint as representative of the 1st Consumer Alliance for Rural Energy (1-CARE) partylist in the 16th Congress together with his fellow Mindanao lawmakers.
While their consolidated legislations passed muster in the Lower House, it failed to get support from their counterparts in the Senate, prompting Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat to refile the same under House Bill No. 122 last year.
Masongsong is hopeful the refiling of their proposed measure will generate enough votes for its enactment to finally maximize the potential of the Agus-Pulangi hydropower complexes, which are pivotal in keeping electricity rates affordable in Mindanao.
“Ang potential niya 982 megawatts (MW) pero ngayon siguro nakaka-generate lang siya between 300 to 400 MW so nawawala ‘yung more or less 500 to 600 MW. So sana pondohan na lang siya ng gobyerno sa pamamagitan ng Minpocor para mga taga-Mindanao ang mag-operate, mag-manage, mag-rehabilitate sa Agus at Pulangi,” he said.
At this point, the fate of the Agus-Pulangi rests with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM), which has been tasked by the Joint Congressional Power Commission to determine the best available option for its impending privatization. ###