Solons deadlocked over energy 'special powers' measure

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 09 2015 03:14 PM | Updated as of Mar 09 2015 11:14 PM

MANILA - Legislators still could not agree on who will shoulder the cost of paying companies that will use their own generator sets to help prevent power outages in Luzon this summer, a key provision of the "special powers" measure that the Aquino administration had requested from Congress.

The second bicameral conference committee on Joint Resolution 12, which was convened to reconcile differences between the versions of the Senate and House of Representatives, ended on Monday without any agreement among lawmakers from both chambers.

The House's version charges the cost of the interruptible load program (ILP) to the Malampaya funds, while the Senate's passes it on to consumers at a rate of 4 centavos per kilowatt hour.

Senator Sergio Osmeña III, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, raised the possibility no joint resolution granting President Aquino special powers would be passed.

In that case, electricity consumers would automatically shoulder the cost of subsidizing the fuel and maintenance expenses of companies participating in the ILP, as mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

"We will have to conduct another bicam, if we agree. If we don't agree then there will be no resolution," Osmeña told reporters.

"But believe me, the ILP is working anyway," he added.

The senator explained that even without the joint resolution, policies like EPIRA and the mandates of the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission already provide for the ILP.

He also stressed that the law requires ILP costs to be passed on to consumers, as was the case in Cebu and certain parts of Mindanao, where the program was implemented before.

"Mahirap magbigay ng exemption dito sa Luzon (It's hard to give Luzon an exemption)," said Osmeña.

Osmeña said he proposed during the closed-door meeting that the government provide indirect subsidy for the ILP using extra profits from the government-owned CBK hydroelectric plant in Laguna, but that congressmen opposed it, insisting that the Malampaya funds be used.

"As of now we have not scheduled when the next bicam will happen," he said.

"We're going to sleep on it tonight, think about it."

Under the ILP, various establishments like malls and factories have committed 967 megawatts of electricity by using their own generator sets to ease energy consumption from the Luzon grid.