Constitutional change needed to lower power cost

7 February 2016

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today said the next administration must adopt policies like easing constitutional provisions on foreign ownership to drive down electricity cost in the country.

Marcos aired this statement in the wake of the announcement of Manila Electric Company of a 42-centavo per kilowatt-hour hike in their charge this month. Meralco also warned of higher electricity rates in the coming summer months.

“We have among the highest power rates in Asia and our current generation capability can hardly keep up with the demand that some areas continue to experience rotating brownouts. If we can drive power costs down mothers can put more food in the table for their families,” said Marcos.

One good way to drive down power cost, according to Marcos is to encourage foreign investors to come in by easing the constitutional restrictions limiting foreign ownership to 40 percent. In particular, Marcos wants the cap removed for renewable energy companies.

“We have a lot of areas with the potential for development of renewable energy sources but these require considerable investment. Many foreign firms are interested but not too keen on coming in unless we ease the 60-40 rule,” said Marcos.

Marcos said the country’s current energy policy is in disarray, citing the complaint of British Ambassador Asif Ahmad who bewailed that while there is a cap on foreign investments in reliable energy full foreign ownership of traditional power generation is allowed.

“It is imperative for the new administration to put up a clear cut and fair policy on energy, particularly with respect to renewable energy development. If we can do that we would not only have reliable and cheaper electricity but we would be protecting our environment as well,” he added.

It was under Marcos’ term as governor of Ilocos Norte when the pioneering wind farm project for commercial power generation, located in Bangui town, was established. It now serves not only the energy needs of the province but of nearby areas as well.