Bohol Diesel Plant To Be Sold?

            Tagbilaran City Mayor Dan Lim yesterday took the cudgels for power consumers in the city and the province when he started the ball rolling in the campaign to defer the bidding and sale of the Bohol diesel plant .

            "The people must unite to stop this," he declared as he signaled the start of the drive to stop the sale.

            The National Power Corporation (NPC) through the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) has put up for bidding the 22-megawatt Bohol Diesel Plant in Dampas.

            "If this plant is sold, the power rate in Bohol will soar to the heavens," Lim warned.

            The power requirements of Bohol are being served by Bohol Electric Cooperatives I and II and the Bohol Light Corporation Inc. (BLCI) who all purchase power from the NPC.

            NPC, which owns both the Leyte Geothermal and the Bohol diesel plants which are its power sources, sells power to the cooperatives and BLCI at P2.8679 per kilowatt hour (KWH) as approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

            BLCI sells this at about P7.50 KWH after transmission charges, franchise and benefits to host communities, adjustments, overhead and profit.

            The ERC-approved NPC generation charge is much lower than the true cost of the power generated by the NPC Bohol diesel plant which uses expensive bunker and diesel fuels.

            Considering that the price of crude oil as of Sept. 18 is at US$91.54, NPC's actual cost of producing power is about P10.15 KWH.

            NPC is able to sell its power at P2.8679 KWH since it has large coal plants that run on cheaper fuel to subsidize its diesel plants.

            Lim revealed that PSALM has already advertised its invitation to bid last Sept. 3-5 for both the 146.5 megawatt Panay diesel power plant and the 22-megawatt Bohol diesel power plant on an "as is where is" basis.

            "If the Dampas diesel plant is sold to the private sector, Boholano power consumers will no longer avail of subsidized cost of power from NPC," he warned.

            The mayor said that with the high cost of crude oil and the margin of profit, the power rate will "soar to the sky".

            Responding to the call of the mayor, his allies in the city council sponsored a resolution urging NPC and PSALM to defer the bidding for the Dampas diesel plant.

            Lim challenged Boholano officials to rally behind the move to defer the sale which he said could double the power rates if not more.

            "We are already paying one of the highest if not the sale power rate in the Visayas," he pointed out.

            The mayor said that if power rates rise higher, this will trigger an economic crisis in all levels of society in Tagbilaran Bohol and negate whatever development initiatives that have been undertaken in recent years.