Power firms, coops owe gov’t P95B

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    POWER companies and electric cooperatives owe the government a whopping P95.42 billion in arrears, an amount that consumers could end up paying, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) disclosed yesterday.

    “Ultimately, your honors, it is the national government that will have the burden of paying this amount come June 2026 when PSALM’s life will expire,” PSALM president and chief executive officer Irene Joy Besido-Garcia told lawmakers during the joint hearing of the House committees on good government and on public accounts.

    Garcia said uncollected fees from private corporations and cooperatives include P35.44 billion from Power and Universal Charges (UC), P33.62 billion from Independent Power Producer Administrator (IPPA) and P26.35 billion from litigation, for reconciliation and adjustment as of December 31 last year.

    South Premiere Power Corp. (SPPC) under San Miguel Corp. also has an outstanding P23.9 billion in “overdue receivables” since December 2019 which is under litigation.

    The SPPC has an IPPA agreement with PSALM for the 1,200-megawatt (MW) natural gas-fired power plant in Ilijan, Batangas.

    Aside from the uncollected fees, Garcia also revealed overdue accounts for generation payments from Northern Renewables Generation Corporation at P4.579 billion, FDC Misamis Power Corp. at P2.630 billion, FDC Utilities Inc. at P1.167 billion, Good Friends Hydro Resources Corp. at P1.214 billion and Waterfront Mactan Casino Hotel Inc. at P87 million.

    She said PSALM is likewise set to receive P14.9 billion from Manila Electric Company (Meralco) which is now under litigation for reconciliation and adjustment payment.

    PSALM was created under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 (RA 9136) to manage the privatization of state power assets and liabilities of the state-owned National Power Corporation (Napocor).

    After the Napocor disposes all of its power assets to private companies, PSALM is supposed to collect the debts but some firms went to the Supreme Court to question the process.

    PSALM is headed by the energy secretary as president, and its board members composed of the finance secretary and representatives of the departments of budget and management; trade and industry and the National Economic Development Authority.

    Anakalusugan part-list Rep. Mike Defensor, chairman of the public accounts committee, said: “Kung nagalit si Pangulong Duterte sa mga water concessionaires sa P11 billion, dito pa kaya sa P95 Billion na ayaw bayaran ng mga private companies? Tiyak sasabog sya sa galit dito (If President Duterte lashed out at water concessionaires for the P11 billion that they wanted the government to pay, how much more in this case where private companies don’t want to pay P95 billion? He will surely blow his top over this).”

    Defensor was referring to the arbitration award granted to Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Company Inc. (MWCI) which the government had refused to pay.

    The representatives of the private power firms will be invited to attend the next hearing to shed light on the issue.

    “Most of them have not paid yet. They will be called for the next hearing. The government could earn a lot from these collections,” Defensor said, warning: “These overdue accounts should be paid by the power firms (because) at the end, the public would carry the burden of paying these, not the government.”

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