MANILA, Philippines – The ongoing sale of the 218-MW hydro-electric power plant (HEPP) component of the multi-purpose Angat Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan is one of the first tests for the country’s next president, according to the Freedom from Debt Coalition.

“The privatization of Angat Dam is one of the first tests Noynoy Aquino would be facing should he become the next president,” said Milo Tanchuling, FDC secretary general.

FDC claimed that it is expected that prices of both electricity and water will shoot up once the sale of Angat Dam is finalized, affecting Metro Manila consumers and farmers in Bulacan and Pampanga. During the campaign period, Aquino was promoted as a “symbol of hope.”

“As a ‘symbol of hope’, we expect incoming President Noynoy Aquino to protect the interest and rights of these affected people, and to nullify the bidding that took place a few days before the May 10 election,” said Tanchuling.

On April 28, the Korea Water Resources Development Corp. (K-Water), a utility wholly-owned and controlled by the Republic of South Korea, submitted the highest bid, amounting to $440.8 million, among six qualified bidders. Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), the agency responsible for the sale of Angat hydro-electric power plant, has yet to announce the winning bidder.

FDC reiterated to Aquino the importance of Angat Dam as it serves a crucial function as a water source more than a power generation plant in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

“Angat Dam is the single-most important water source of Metro Manila, providing 97 percent of the water needs of at least 12 million residents of the country’s capital. The dam also irrigates some 31,000 hectares of farms across 20 towns and municipalities in Bulacan and Pampanga,” said Tanchuling.

He added that the outgoing administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and PSALM took on a blind eye to these factors and proceeded with the sale of the Angat Dam.

Under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), PSALM is mandated to privatize all the assets of the National Power Corporation, including the Angat HEPP.

Most Expensive Electricity

Comparing all generation assets sold by PSALM, the advocacy group took notice of the huge amount K-Water offered for the Angat hydro-electric power plant.

“Compared with the prices of all the hydro-electric power plants sold to private and transnational entities, the price of Angat Dam is the most expensive, with US$2.02 million per megawatts,” said Bobby Diciembre, FDC media officer.

He explained that of the ten (10) hydro-electric power plants including Angat Dam, the 1.8-MW Barit HEPP in Camarines Sur and the 0.8-MW Amian HEPP in Negros Oriental registered low prices at US$0.27 million per megawatts and US$0.29 million per megawatts, respectively.

The 360-MW Magat HEPP in Isabela bought by SN Aboitiz Power Corporation registered a tag price of US$1.47 million per megawatts, while the 175-MW Ambukalo-Binga hydro-electric power complex in Benguet bought by SN Aboitiz Power Hydro Inc registered a price of US$1.86 million per megawatts.

“With the huge amount K-Water offered for the Angat Dam, it is expected that they would recover it by overpricing their generated power to be sold to the distribution utilities and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). Distribution utilities, such as Meralco, would then pass the burden to the consumers to get back what was taken away from them,” explained Diciembre. ###

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