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Mindanao growth threatened by power shortage

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said over the weekend that the growth of Mindanao may be stunted unless investments in the power sector start pouring in.

“Mindanao is where a fourth of the country’s population lives. Unless we take steps to ensure sufficient power on the island by creating a conducive environment for investments, we as a nation will be headed for a crisis,” Escudero said.

He called for the immediate privatization of the government’s power generation and distribution assets in the region and to allow free market forces to determine costs rather than keeping power rates artificially low supposedly to attract industries.

He said investments in Mindanao’s power sector are unlikely if power pricing problems remain unsettled

Despite a recent increase to P2.8177 per kilowatt hour, Mindanao’s power rate is still the lowest in the country. The low electricity rates are also a detriment to attracting investments in the secotr, Escudero said.

The senator also called for a diversified power production scheme so that Mindanao will not be affected too much by bad weather and oil price hikes. Some of the region’s power sources are renewable such as hydroelectric power.

The senator noted the last power plant opened in Mindanao was in 2007 when the first coal-fired plant in the island was inaugurated in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

Other proposed power plants like the 42.5-MW hydropower plant in Sibulan, Davao del Sur and the 27-MW Tamugan hydropower plant in Davao City will still take years before they can start operations.

A 200-MW coal-fired plant in Maasim, Sarangani remains on the drawing board.

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