DoE’s Lotilla says gov’t involvement in power will not bring rates down

ENERGY Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla told legislators that electricity rates will not fall if the government re-enters the power business.

“If Congress brings back the state into the power sector… (the government) will have to fund the maintenance of the power sector,” he said at the House committee on energy on Thursday.

At the hearing, Nueva Ecija Rep. Rosanna V. Vergara said Congress is exploring ways to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 in a manner that will bring down power rates.

“We want to amend EPIRA and our number one concern is we want power rates to go down. I believe… the only way to do that (is to) allow government to once again invest, build power plants,” Ms. Vergara said.

Ms. Vergara said government involvement will keep market power from being concentrated in private hands.

EPIRA privatized the assets of the heavily indebted National Power Corp., among other reforms.

Mr. Lotilla said the prevailing view at the time EPIRA was passed was that the government’s presence in the power industry inhibited expansion, paving the way for the private sector’s entry.

“Congress had to authorize the absorption of the P200-billion debt of Napocor,” Mr. Lotilla said, adding that a government return to the industry will put it in a position of competing with the private sector.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said in his first State of the Nation Address that one of his administration’s priority measures will be amending EPIRA. — Ashley Erika O. Jose