DESPITE opposition from various groups, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) will go ahead with the privatization of the Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants in Mindanao by 2017.
PSALM is the government corporation tasked to privatize state-owned power assets previously owned by the National Power Corp. (NPC).
PSALM President Emmanuel Ledesma Jr. said that based on the board’s approved schedule, the Agus-Pulangi’s privatization is due in 2017.
“2017, that’s the Board-approved (date), that’s the earliest,” Ledesma told reporters.
The Agus-Pulangi complex has a combined capacity of 982 megawatts (MW) and supplies more than 50 percent of the total electricity requirements of Mindanao.
Privatization of the hydropower plants is being opposed by some Mindanao lawmakers and consumers’ groups, fearing it could result in power rate hikes.
Ledesma maintained, however, that PSALM is mandated by law, specifically by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, to privatize all the assets of the National Power Corp. (NPC).
“Based on the EPIRA law, all of the assets of NPC are supposed to be privatized and PSALM will privatize 100 percent of NPC assets,” he added.
He pointed out that the auction of Agus-Pulangi can only be stopped permanently if the EPIRA law is amended.
“If there is an amendment to the EPIRA law saying that we should not privatize the Agus-Pulangi plants then we will abide by the law,” Ledesma said.
“There are so many issues involved in the Agus-Pulangi privatization” which makes it difficult for PSALM to speed up the bidding schedule, he said.
Apart from the Agus-Pulangi plants, Ledesma said they also plan to auction the 32-MW Power Barge 104 this year, and bulk of the contracted output of the Unified Leyte Power Plants sometime in the first quarter of 2015.
Also to be privatized are the contracted capacity of the 210-MW Mindanao coal plant in Misamis Oriental, the Casecnan multi-purpose hydro power plant and the Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan hydro plant in Luzon.