By Wilnard Bacelonia

Senator Imee Marcos (File photo

MANILA – A senator differed on Tuesday from the idea of Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC) to invest in power transmission which is being handled by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Senator Imee Marcos said investing part of the Maharlika Fund in NGCP is not the right way to solve power transmission problems in the country but to maximize Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) functions.

“Why should the MIC spend money to improve the performance of the NGCP when it is regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission? Why should we use public funds when regulatory measures are available?” Marcos asked.

Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 requires the NGCP to “maintain the reliability, adequacy, security, stability and integrity of the nationwide electrical grid” in accordance with the Philippine Grid Code.

Marcos noted what the NGCP’s clarification that funding was not a problem, but she questioned how the company has been spending its net income.

“The problem of NGCP is not lack of cash but lack of performance. The NGCP’s comprehensive income totaled PHP307 billion in the past 14 years, of which PHP239 billion or more than 77 percent has been distributed to shareholders, even as the NGCP claimed PHP309 billion in transmission upgrades,” she said.

The “alarming lack of improvement” in the NGCP’s power transmission capacity, Marcos pointed out, has caused “automatic load-dropping incidents and grid-level outages, inadequate procurement of ancillary services to prevent outages, and delays in the completion of grid projects lasting as long as seven years.”

She said instead of investing in the NGCP, the government should exclude unfinished projects in the computation of the private corporation’s rates.

“This will incentivize the NGCP to finish projects before recouping costs,” she said, noting that there should be penalties for delays.

Marcos recalled former president Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 30 which created the Energy Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) and recognized energy projects as Projects of National Significance.

“Given the problem of permitting faced by NGCP projects, the inclusion of the respective leagues of LGUs (local government units) in the EICC can help in simplifying the process,” she said.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez recently floated the idea of having MIC invest in NGCP, saying this could lead to “improved efficiency, economic growth, enhanced energy security, support for renewable energy integration, and increased accountability in NGCP’s operations.”

MIC president and CEO Rafael Consing Jr. agreed to the idea considering that it “holds immense potential to strengthen our energy sector and pave the way for a brighter future.”

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, in a Viber message to reporters on Monday, said MIC can invest in power transmission with these issues surrounding the NGCP.

“Posible na mag-invest ang MIC sa transmission business dahil una, ito ay dahil monopolyo ito, napaka ganda ng kita ng negosyo na ito (The MIC could possibly invest in transmission business because first, it is currently in monopoly and also a profitable business),” Gatchalian said but also stressed the importance of NGCP finishing its delayed projects first. (PNA)