Monday, March 3, 2014

Emerging Power in Mindoro Island

The Power Supply Agreement (PSA) between Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (OMECO) and the Emerging Power Incorporated (EPI), Philippines was finally signed last Friday, February 28, 2014 at Sikatuna Beach Hotel here in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro and the speakers, especially those coming from our locality, including the two program emcees, keep on saying, “Walang pulitika ito” and with all honesty I do not believe them. There is politics in everything. Be it in other part of the planet or right here at our very nose.

The event is supposedly witnessed by no less than Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla but he didn’t show up for the day before, all of the five of the geothermal plants in Mindanao bogged down that resulted to massive power outage in the whole region. Malacanan sent him in the area to assess and remedy the situation there. He felt so sorry for his absence, according to reports. Secretary Petilla, on the other hand, is very positive on the realization of Mindoro Integrated Development Plan which is targeted to be funded by the Malampaya Fund.

The PSA between OMECO and EPI is a welcome development. At this early point, I would like to congratulate the OMECO people led by Melito Pasol, Chairman of the Board and Engr. Fritz Dantis, its general manager. EPI is a Mindoro-based power company which is about to operate a 45-megawatt geothermal power plant in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. The confirmatory tests, according to the EPI executive president Alberto C. Guanzon, gained positive results and they will be drilling 8 wells starting July of this year and gave assurance that the first well with 3MW capacity would be directed to, thus augment power supply in Occidental Mindoro through OMECO.

According to Rep. Josephine Y. Ramirez Sato, EPI assured them that by 2015, we will be getting additional 3.3 MW and expected to increase each year. By 2017, we can all say goodbye to brown outs and other hassles brought about by power outage, we were assured. Our geothermal source has a life span of 50 years and the Contract or the PSA has a life span of 25 years. What we need now are transmission lines and the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) should upgrade all its transmission lines circumventing the whole island as soon as possible. Sato asked the people from EPI to stand by their commitment. Rep. Rey Umali, of 2nd district of Oriental Mindoro and chair of the Committee on Energy at the House of Representatives, too, graced the occasion.

From my perspective as a lowly electric consumer and MSEAC member, I think that financially-wise, geothermal is more acceptable than bunker fuel or oil and carbon for it belongs to renewable energy. Our country sells the highest electricity rate in the universe that made the average unit electricity consumption per Filipino household is half that of Indonesia. News reports have it that EPI is slated to drill by the third quarter of this year and will start delivering by middle of 2015, with the full capacity for delivering 20 MW to Occidental Mindoro and 20 MW to Oriental Mindoro by the middle of 2016. Antonie de Wilde, CEO of Emerging Power Inc, Philippines assured that the whole island will be the “capital of the shining light in the country.” Indeed, the geothermal field could also attract tourists just like the so-called Blue Lagoon in Iceland, they say.

In a paper entitled “Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All: The Energy Sector Directions Paper” released by the World Bank in July 2013 stressed that the access to reliable source of energy is a key component to ending poverty. The undersigned too is into opinion that people living without electricity have fewer opportunities to improve their lives. Indeed, delivering reliable energy services for economic development and providing access to electricity to communities without or lacking such energy services is essential to reducing poverty. "Access to energy is absolutely fundamental in the struggle against poverty," said World Bank Vice President Rachel Kyte. "It is energy that lights the lamp that lets you do your homework, that keeps the heat on in a hospital, the light that lights the small businesses where most people work. Without energy, there is no economic growth, there is no dynamism, and there is no opportunity."  Let us be watchdogs more than ever. Our people cannot afford to be impoverished forever. We deserve more than being poor.

Everything is political. Thus, being the basic social service, the provision of reliable and affordable electricity, is one product of politics’ true intention. And again to emphasize, politics in the strictest sense of the world is sacred and positive. The ugly things are, among other things, when politicians intervene in a supposed to be apolitical (not leaning on any political group) electric cooperatives. In short, how politicians wield political power and authority. When this- and- that politician makes business or makes money out of it. When (s)he uses all the tricks (s)he can afford to legally assert his/her business interest. These are the very emerging concerns that we must be vigilant of as electric consumers.

There is politics in everything. Even silence is a political option and action…


(Photo grabbed without permission from Robert Asignacion's Facebook account)

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