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Epira: From P5 to P15/kWh
It is the biggest swindle on this country of all time: the Edsa II Epira (Electricity Power Reform Act of 2001) and its power sector privatization. It promised to end monopoly, promote competition and lower electricity prices but this is the real sordid experience: before Epira, electricity generated and distributed was P5/kilowatthour, seven years later, electricity here is the highest in Asia at P11/kWh. Then, starting this early 2008, our electricity prices will hit P15/kWh as the Universal Charge kicks in with payment for “stranded costs” amounting to $9.6 billion that FVR and Gloria’s onerous IPP contracts and the Epira’s privatization— plus the wholesale electricity spot market (Wesm) and other charges (P2.60/kWh and more).
The “open access” amendment ballyhooed by Juan Ponce-Enrile, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Mikee Arroyo, supposedly to reduce the Lopez lock on the power market by reducing National Power Corp. privatization minimum from 70 percent to 10 percent to promote competition — all these are hoaxes to divert from the real task: the scrapping of Epira and the gargantuan stranded costs — the PPA overpurchased and overpriced by Ramos and Gloria and Napocor debts it incurred and transferred to consumers because the IPP and private distribution companies privatized those margins as corporate profit. That is the only way to save consumers, industry, taxpayers and this country from the cataclysm of the power rates going amuck.
The P15/kWh will hit the country with a whammy, a seismic shock that will make the Myanmar gas price increase that provoked even normally compliant Buddhist monks, look like a picnic. What GMA will try to do is to cover up the increase again, how? By passing it on silently as taxes — the way Joker Arroyo and Teddy “Boy” Locsin helped Gloria increase revenues by stealthily putting in 12 percent VAT into our power bills; but we’ll be here to inform one and all and they shouldn’t get away with it this time. But in addition to the stranded cost, the Wesm and PEMC fees and profits to “recover,” Meralco is also getting a revision to its profits-setting formula — from the 12 percent RORB (reasonable return of rate base) to the new PBR (performance based rate).
PBR is set at 16 percent which obliges the Energy Regulatory Board and consumers to ensure Meralco gets at least 16 percent profit, anything lower would be illegal and if through some unimaginable miscalculation Meralco accountants got it wrong and charged lower, ERB would have to raise the rates to meet the 16 percent. “Golly, gee, whiz,” how great it is to be an investor in the Lopez enterprises with such guaranteed windfall courtesy of the ERB commissioners.
The hood-winking does not stop there; in the National Transmission Corp. privatization, GMA is rushing the payment of P2.5 billion damage from Typhoon “Milenyo” so Transco is freed of this burden when the new owners take over.
Why sell Transco if we will give up P18 billion of annual profits of Transco and also shoulder the typhoon damage? This is exactly what they did to the Napocor assets which were privatized. They made us spend for rehabilitation and upgrading before transferring them to the hands of the “buyers” who never spent a cent to take over (except the huge grease moneys to the FVR and GMA cabals). Why do we get exercised over the measly $360-million ZTE-NBN scandal and forget that in the Epira and IPP plunder, we have plunder on a historic scale amounting to tens of billions of dollars or trillions of pesos! What does it take to shake the country from its paralysis on this power plunder?
Short of a revolution against the Epira where we will need the conscientious soldiers to assist us against the mighty power of the foreign and local oligarchs, we are educating and organizing the nation. In education, the first thing today is to junk Enrile, Miriam, Mikee and the techno-quacks in government and multi-lateral agencies saying all it needs is “reform” or amendment of the Epira — that solves nothing and only postpones real, effective action. Now, we are also organizing a truly strong alliance of people’s organizations, business associations, labor and consumer movements, religious groups, students and other sectors of society called EmPower Consumers.
EmPower Consumers is in collaboration with Freedom from Debt Coalition, Nasecor, Sulo ng Pilipino, an anti-Epira faction of Apec, the KME (Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomista), ASL (Alliance for Servant Leadership), Sanlakas and over 20 other organizations. It is being launched today, Oct. 1, at the Kowloon House, Matalino Street, Quezon City, 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The previous alliance of this significance was the Anti-PPA Coalition in 2001 which filed for a TRO in the Pasig RTC and received the court’s response only last month, six-and-a-half years later! EmPower will produce educational videos to be spread to all barangays, and organize action down to the local level.
The exorbitant Epira electricity rates is the real destabilizer and destroyer of our society: destroying jobs and industry (even the export and business process outsourcing sectors are wailing in pain), education (public school teachers collect from students to pay school electricity) and security (the AFP has unpaid bills of millons) and the overall health and welfare of the nation. I appeal to all our readers to join in the struggle, and together launch the revolution to junk the Epira ASAP and restore sovereignty, justice and productivity in our society.
(Tune to 1098AM, M-W-F, 6 7 p.m.)
Latest page update: made by sampot
, Oct 12 2007, 1:33 AM EDT
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