The People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates (POWER) expresses alarm at the government’s continuing failure to address the critical power crisis that has been plaguing Mindanao for the last five years.

Yesterday’s island-wide blackout, the cause of which the Department of Energy remained clueless 24 hours after the incident, comes at the heels of the surprise revelation that in the Pablo-struck areas of Southern Mindanao, 57% of villages still has no power more than a year after the storm and despite billions of pesos spent on rehabilitation.

Maybe it’s time Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla look for another job, probably as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) where he can better tend to his constituents in disaster-struck Leyte.

Unfortunately, Mindanao’s power woes will get worse because the DOE under Sec. Petilla is bent on implementing the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM), a clone of the dreaded Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in Luzon that caused power rates to spike last November and December, making Meralco seek a P4.15 power rate hike in December and another P5.33 hike in January.

Worse than WESM, which operates in Luzon’s limited power supply, IMEM will be operating in Mindanao where there is an acute power shortage. This will definitely lead to even higher prices, with power generators having a heyday manipulating the spot market.

If IMEM is allowed to continue operating, the same WESM schemes like high clearing prices and automatic pass through charges will be experienced by electricity consumers all over Mindanao, leading to higher rates.

Already, Mindanao’s electric cooperatives are up in arms over IMEM’s more than P200 million in excess billing from Nov. 26-Dec. 25, where it charged the cooperatives for electricity that allegedly was neither ordered nor delivered. The ECs have refused to pay said charges and are poised to ask the Courts to declare IMEM illegal.

The IMEM is managed by the Philippine Electric Market Corporation (PEMC), the same agency that oversees the WESM.#


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