Forced takeover of private firms’ generators eyed

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DESPERATE situations call for desperate measures.

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This could be what brothers and Representatives Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City and Maximo Rodriguez of Abante Mindanao party-list had in mind when they proposed a total government takeover of private firms with generators to address a looming power shortage next year.

The lawmakers made the proposal through a House resolution that seeks to allow the government to operate the generators of business establishments with relatively large stand-by generators producing at least one megawatt (MW) in their offices or plants or self-generating facilities (SGFs).

In turn, the owners of the generators will be granted proper compensation for the diesel fuel, rentals and salaries of the operators of the generators.

The proposal invoked Article 12, Section 17 of the Constitution under National Economic and Patrimony that states “the government can temporarily take over privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest.”

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla wants Congress to grant emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino 3rd—an authority that will allow the government to intervene in power generation by contracting additional power generating sets.

Petilla claimed that the government needs to raise additional 800 megawatts of power supply to prevent brownouts in summer 2015.
But under his lease proposal, the government would need to spend P6 billion for 600 megawatts of power supply for two years.

“In this case, there is a looming national emergency with the projected shortfall of energy supply which will negatively affect the country’s economy. This temporary power given to the [Energy secretary] will last only from February to May 2015,” the proposal read.

Instead of granting emergency powers, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. of Quezon City and House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila) filed House Resolution 1533, which seeks to probe how much the projected shortage is, factoring in the expected entry of power plants by 2015.

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