CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: The country’s cooperative sector is emerging out of the footnotes of Philippine economic development to join big business in major economic ventures including power generation in Mindanao.
Cooperatives from all over the country are banding together to raise the needed capital to operate and manage the Agus-Pulangi Hydro Electric Power Plants (HEPP), which is currently supplying half of Mindanao’s power needs.
Last Thursday, the board of directors of the 1Mindanao Energy Cooperative Federation (1MIECOOP) met in Cagayan de Oro City to strategize their next move – to convince President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd and the National Power Corporation – Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (NPC-Psalm) to award to them the Operations and Management Agreement (OMA) of the hydro-electric generation facility with combined installed capacity of 982 megawatts.
The 1MIECOOP is asking for an audience with the President to seek exemption from usual bidding processes under the rules set by Psalm in the privatization of the NPC assets. It argues that the rules of Psalm are designed for big corporations, whereas, the 1MIECOOP will be owned and capitalized by around 3-million Mindanao power consumers and big cooperatives nationwide.
To address the capital requirements to acquire the operations and management agreement of the Agus Pulangi, the 1MIECOOP will raise capital by collecting P100 a month for one year from cooperative members of cooperatives who have joined the 1MIECOOP —a cooperative federation. With around 3 million members, 1MIECOOP projects to raise P3.6 billion in one year. 1MIECOOP can even raise the stake higher with billionaire cooperative throughout the country shelling out bigger capital contribution.
Those who are opposed to the privatization of the power plants are wary that a power rate hike is in the offing, because private firms would have to generate profits.
The 1MIECOOP, in a position paper, said giving them the operation and management of the Agus-Pulangi HEPP would “put consumers’ interest above the interest of the private and public corporations.”
The option being offered by the 1MIECOOP would no longer need legislation to amend the EPIRA, said Orlando R. Ravanera, chairman of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
“It is simply putting the power generation facility in the right hands and away from the profit-taking,” Ravanera said.
He added that the CDA as the government’s regulating agency for cooperatives would make sure that once the operation and management of the power plants is given to 1MIECOOP, the agency would closely monitor it to protect the interests of the power consumer-owners.
Under the operation and management of the cooperative, 1MIECOOP said the low generation cost of the Agus Pulangi HEPP would be protected and maintained.