By Ernie Reyes
Westfair Communications photo courtesy
MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros is calling for an investigation, in aid of legislation, into the failure of concerned government agencies in ensuring the affordability of electricity rates in the country, twenty years after the enactment of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA law).
Proposed Senate Resolution No. 746 seeks to determine the deficiencies and failures of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the Department of Energy (DOE), in bringing down power rates in the country, on top of other major objectives such as ensuring the quality, reliability and security of the electricity supply since its implementation. EPIRA was signed into law on 8 June 2001.
The resolution would also try to find out the feasibility of reducing the electricity rates by at least P2.00 per kilowatt-hour through a combination of measures against factors that contribute significantly to why Philippine electricity rates are way above its ASEAN neighbors.
“Sa taon-taon na lang na may banta at aktwal na nangyayaring rotational blackouts at patuloy na pagtaas ng electricity rates, tila napako na ang pangako ng EPIRA na makapagbigay ng murang kuryente at maayos na serbisyo para sa bawat Pilipino,“ she said.
“Dapat malaman kung sino ang nagkulang at papanagutin kung sino ang nagpabaya. Hindi lang ito inconvenience sa household consumers kundi hadlang din sa muling pagbangon ng mga negosyo at sa distance education ng ating mga kabataan,” Hontiveros added.
According to DOE’s Philippine Energy Plan for 2018-2040, government taxes, the thermal efficiency of power plants, and the higher weighted average cost of capital (WACC) for transmission and distribution contribute to the expensive cost of power. However, an independent study argued that even without these taxes, electricity cost remains 30% higher than the rates in other ASEAN countries.
Hontiveros also pointed out that aside from the expensive power cost, the consumers remain saddled with perennial problems of power interruptions due to diminishing supply, system inefficiencies, and high dependence on fossil fuel.
“Absent substantial rate reduction, EPIRA and its implementing agencies cannot claim any significant milestone twenty years after its enactment. The law was supposed to restructure the country’s power industry but apparently, we’re still confronted with basic cost and supply issues. Walang usad,” the Senator stated.
Hontiveros said, the review of the implementation of EPIRA is vital now, more than ever, as the prices of food, transportation, and utilities are still ballooning and weighing heavily on Filipino households.
“Filipinos deserve no less than uninterrupted and reliable supply of electricity at reasonable prices which EPIRA, through DOE and ERC, promised. Ngayong sabay-sabay ang dagok sa ating mga kababayan, huwag na sanang hayaan na maging ‘rotational’ din ang mga problemang kinakaharap ng power sector. Let’s put an end to this, once and for all,” she concluded. (AI/MTVN)