Take politics out of power sector–Teodoro

Take politics out of power sector–Teodoro
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The next administration should ensure a transparent and politics-free power sector if it wants to attract investment in new generation capacity and finally put an end to power problems.

Speaking at the Wallace Business Forum roundtable discussion yesterday, administration presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro said there was clearly no quick fix to the supply shortage that the country is currently experiencing.

Such band-aid solutions as importing modular generators and deployment of power barges will do for now, but what the country needs is something long-term and sustainable, according to Teodoro.

Transparency

“There’s a lack of generating capacity, so we need to get investments in that. What [a Teodoro administration] can guarantee is transparency in all transactions,” he said.

“We have to address the problem of long-term assurance of non-political controversies for the sector. We have to be transparent in negotiations,” he said.

According to Teodoro, many Filipinos believe that the only way to ensure transparency in transactions is to have them go through public bidding.

“But you can have a requisite amount of transparency in negotiations. These just have to be conducted under the right terms,” he said.

In terms of regulatory stability, he said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) was actually “doing a good job” of setting rates and looking after consumer welfare.

As for an issue that is a major concern to power sector investors—that of the Supreme Court reversing decisions made by the regulatory body—Teodoro said the high tribunal was in a position to step in because the ERC was a quasi-judicial body.

Renewable energy

However, the high court “should just stick to determining whether or not there was grave abuse of discretion, and leave the rate-setting to the ERC,” he said.

Teodoro also expressed his support for renewable energy, but stressed that the use of such resources should ultimately result in reasonable power rates.

“We have to strike a balance between sustainable and renewable and affordable,” he said.

“In the long run, we have to have sustainable renewable energy, but we would have to appoint a good steward for this. [Former Energy Secretary Francisco] Viray is a good choice,” he said.

He also believes that the country should explore the nuclear power option, but only if safety and waste disposal issues can be addressed.

“We have to tackle the safety issue and waste disposal. If we can get a good system for disposing waste, then we should invest in nuclear power generation. As for the location, there are 7,107 islands in the Philippines. I’m sure we can find a non-controversial island where we can place a nuclear power plant,” he said.

“There is also the need to educate people on the safety issues. We have to tell them that it will be cheaper and cleaner to produce power from nuclear sources. People have to be educated,” he added.

But he said resuscitating the mothballed 620-megawatt Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was not the way to go.

“It’s really not feasible,” Teodoro said.

Abigail L. Ho

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.