Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Zubiri seeks EPIRA changes to bring power rates down

LEGAZPI CITY, March 30 (PNA) -- Senatorial aspirant Miguel “Migz” Zubiri has called for amendments to some provisions in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to bring down the cost of electricity in the country.

Zubiri, whose mother is an Albayana, said in an interview here Tuesday that there is a need to regulate private ownership in the field of power generation, transmission and distribution.

He said private power generators and distributors, including private electric companies, which are in connivance with each other are manipulating the prices of power at the expense of the public.

“I was against private ownership granted under the EPIRA that is why I voted against the law,” the former senator said.

He claimed that privatization is the main reason electricity rates are high even if one is a host region with abundant power-generating resources like Albay, he said.

Zubiri noted that the power industry in the country is currently being controlled by only 10 families whose objective is to maximize profit.

He, however, begged off from naming the 10 families.

Zubiri said that if elected, he would file a bill that will amend the EPIRA by limiting private ownership engaged in power generation, distribution and transmission.

He believes that the government should have vast control over these energy facilities so as to serve the people by giving efficient but low and affordable power rates.

Zubiri said he will also include in the amendment the granting of a preferential rate to power-generating host regions like Albay and Sorsogon, considered as geothermal-rich provinces in Bicol.

He said power generated from Tiwi geothermal and the Bacon-Manito geothermal power sources pass through the Luzon Grid, resulting in a double generation cost being charged to power consumers in Bicol.

Giving a priority power dispatch to host regions would in effect bring down the power rate by at least 30 to 40 percent per kilowatt-hour.

Albay consumers are paying Php11 per kilowatt-hour.

Zubiri encouraged public and private energy players to invest more in building renewable energy projects such as wind, solar and biomass technologies.

Building wind power facilities in provinces and towns at the eastern seaboard would be adequate to meet the electricity requirements of that place.

Zubiri said 10 wind turbines can produce 20 megawatts of electricity while the country’s energy potential for wind power at the eastern seaboard alone is 4,700 megawatts and this capacity could energize the whole country.

The independent senatorial candidate said that with the wind and solar power technologies, the country will no longer be dependent on coal and diesel-fired power generators.

He also urged the Department of Energy (DOE) and the local government units to draw up policies that would promote and build wind, solar, hydrothermal and biomass technologies that are abundant in Bicol and other regions.

Zubiri also claimed being a Bicolano as his mother hailed from Libon town in Albay and a nephew of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Ramon Fernandez.

He met with Albay Governor Joey Salceda and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal and members of the Albay Mayors' League. (PNA) LAP/FGS/MSA/CBD/EDS