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Mindoro’s power woes may be finally resolved

To address the power crisis affecting the provinces of Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro, a member of the House Committee on Energy bared the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has finally issued its clarificatory ruling on the issue on the payment of the P258-million National Power Corp. (Napocor) subsidy to its distributor utility, the Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (OMECO).

In a news statement, Rep. Leody Tarriela, of Occidental Mindoro said the decision of the ERC may be the key to solving the lingering power crisis in the province.

Last week, during a panel hearing wherein Tarriela’s Resolution No. 34 calling for an investigation on the dire power situation in Occidental Mindoro was tackled, the ERC finally issued its ruling on the issue.

“My office has spent an enormous amount of time, resources, effort and energy, towards solving this singular problem. I am grateful to the ERC. In their September 21 Order, the ERC clarified that Napocor, and not OMECO, will pay the unpaid P258 million subsidy charged by our power provider, OMCPC [Occidental Mindoro Consolidated Power Corporation],” he said.

The island of Mindoro (made up of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro provinces) is an off grid and electricity missionary area. As such, the cost of its power is more expensive than the rest of the country, which are connected to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. A fraction of the cost of its power is subsidized by the Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification Areas (UC-ME) fund of Napocor.

Previously, the lawmaker said the ERC allowed only a 50 percent charge on the subsidy, the 50 percent balance to be paid by OMECO, saying this was due to the failure of OMECO to then conduct a competitive selection process (CSP) for a new power provider.

Interestingly, he said the previous and the only power provider of the province, the OMCPC, still ended up winning all the three areas bided out by OMECO.

“OMPCC shuts down their plant very often because they cannot buy crude oil because they are in the debt of OMECO. Now it is clear that OMECO is debt free. Napocor will pay the P258 million debt,” added Tarriela.

The OMCPC was granted by the ERC a provisional authority and approved Power Supply Agreement (PSA) for two areas in the province. One is for 5 megawatts (MW) in Sablayan area and 7 MW in Mamburao area. For the biggest 19 MW SAMARICA area, it has yet to get an approved PSA, as OMCPC has not completed its requirements.

For his part, House Committee on Energy Chairman Lord Allan Velasco said his committee has scheduled another hearing for further discussion on the power crisis.

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