DMCI Power Corp. (DPC) officials said state firm National Power Corp. (NPC) has yet to pay the company P1.3 billion worth of fuel that was used by power plants under the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) in off-grid areas.
“We were not paid. The overdue amount is P1.3 billion. It’s already overdue for four and half months,” Isidro Consunji, chairman of DMCI Holdings Inc., told reporters in a recent interview.
DPC, the power arm of DMCI Holdings, has a consolidated installed capacity of 148MW located across Masbate, Palawan and Oriental Mindoro. Its energy portfolio includes diesel, bunker and thermal.
It was established in 2006 to energize the small and remote islands in the country that are not connected to the main power grid. It is currently the biggest off-grid power provider in the Philippines.
NPC also owes Petron Corp. P1.2 billion for diesel, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla earlier said.
“Universal charge for missionary electrification cannot sustain it even with a P0.20 increase,” Lotilla had commented.
Consunji said the issue is “very political” but he commended Lotilla for doing something about it.
“(Lotilla) said he got approval for NPC to borrow money. But, I think, more than borrowing the money you have to approve the universal charge because it really is not enough. Fuel prices have gone up three times already and if you increase the rates by 25 to 30 centavos there will be complaints. In fairness to (Lotilla), he did something. But, I think, ERC must also do something.”
NPC earlier warned of power outages in the missionary areas covered by SPUG that could be brought about by the possible shutdown of diesel plants and the state firm’s inability to pay fuel suppliers.
The state firm said the recommended budget of the Department of Budget and Management for next year was cut by 30 percent to P32.21 billion.
NPC officials earlier told lawmakers during a Senate hearing that the budget reduction will result in the possible shutdown of 278 existing plants by the end of July 2023, of which 200 are in Luzon, 54 in Visayas and 27 in Mindanao.
NPC said its approved fuel budget of P6.385 billion for SPUG missionary areas was based on a price assumption of P37.99 per liter for diesel. However, diesel prices shot up to as high as P79.66 per liter after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.