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‘Open mind' urged on M'nao power issue

Monday, April 16, 2012 02:48 AM    Views : 298by:BusinessMirror

President Aquino on Monday urged those opposed to his prescribed resolution to the Mindanao power problem to "open their minds," and said his administration was ready to have more dialogues with Mindanao stakeholders, if necessary.

Mr. Aquino made the appeal at an impromptu news conference that he called primarily to explain the government's position on the power situation in Mindanao, amid continued opposition to the proposed privatization of hydroelectric plants there.

Asked if he believed he can convince those opposed to the government's offered solution to accept the plan, the President said, "I think it would be so obvious, just as long as we open our minds. How can you change the situation if you do not change a system that has been in existence for so long."

Mr. Aquino said that, if necessary, the government would hold more dialogues with Mindanao stakeholders, since his one-and-a-half hour forum with them might have been inadequate for them to fully grasp his offered solution to their power-supply problem, which he believed was "well-studied" and was based on "historical data."

When asked, Mr. Aquino said he will read the manifesto of Mindanao governors against the privatization of Pulangi and Agus hydroelectric power plants, but noted that none of the governors told him about their opposition when he met them at the power summit last week.

"We will see how reasonable they are and I'm open to discussing it further with them. But let me reiterate, and I'm assuming that the Epira as a law presently constructed, allows us to further delay the privatization of these Napocor assets," he said.

The President also said he would like to verify claims that the National Power Corp. (Napocor) has been reaping profits in Mindanao, which he doubts.

"I want to see if what they're saying is true, that Napocor is making money in Mindanao. I doubt that. What they gave me is the bottom line; there's a side there that I really want to see the details," he said.

Mr. Aquino said what his administration is after is "is to keep on driving to make the power rates reasonable, and the first step really has to be an excess of generating capacity that will foster competition" which is already existing in Luzon.

When asked, he said that he will study the proposal of former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco to use small modular reactors to ease the power problem.

"We will study it again. But there are other sources of energy that have less impact or potential negative impact that are available to us," he said.

The President said the Department of Science and Technology has an ongoing study on the use of nuclear energy in the country but he remained skeptical about it, in view of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan when that country was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami last year.

He added that even Germany is rethinking its utilization of nuclear energy, because of the Fukushima disaster.

"When we look at how meticulous and studious they are in following all of the rules and regulations to ensure safety and we are not as meticulous and studious, we really have to study the matter very, very well," the President said.

He noted that "Japan with all this technological prowess was very hard put to address the situation in Fukushima and they've been utilizing nuclear energy for quite a long time."

"We who are nascent, can we say that we will do better than them from…right off the bat?" the President asked.

He said he is in favor of renewable energy but reiterated that solar energy, for example, would cost more.

"Are the consumers willing to pay for the clean energy?" he asked.

The President gave a power point presentation of the Mindanao grid load profile, which showed demand during peak and off-peak hours, and power sources.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Mr. Aquino decided to give a press conference—which was advised to the media just half an hour earlier—"to emphasize the real situation, the energy situation in Mindanao" to the public at large.

"This is a concern not only of the people of Mindanao. The President is the president of all and that's the reason why he believes that we need to tell the people—not only people of Mindanao—the true situation in Mindanao," he said.

Source: http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/top-news/25916-open-mind-urged-on-mnao-power-issue

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