Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said he finds a stronger argument for Congress to back President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s plan to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to ensure adequate and cheaper power for consumers.
“Only a makeover of EPIRA, which allows even inefficient or mismanaged power suppliers—like a number of electric cooperatives (ECs)—to keep their monopolies over their respective places of operation, could bring about true free market competition in these franchise areas—and clear the way to stable and more affordable electricity plus better customer services for household, commercial and industrial consumers,” he said.
During a Commission on Appointments committee hearing on Energy Secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla, Villafuerte said he was able to draw out from the energy official “an acknowledgment that both the EPIRA Law of 2001 and the subsequent Microgrid Systems Act of 2022 have not led to the entry of enough power distribution utilities or microgrid service providers in many areas underserved by the existing franchise holders or in those mostly faraway communities with no electricity at all.”
EPIRA has a provision allowing qualified third party or alternative electric service provider duly authorized by the Energy Regulatory Commission to serve unviable areas or those underserved by existing franchise holders, in keeping with this law’s goal to accelerate the country’s total electrification.
Villafuerte noted that both laws have proceeded at a sluggish pace—in the case of EPIRA.
“One of the requirements for this (RA 11646) to move forward is for the Department of Energy to declare unserved and underserved areas in the country. So my question is from January to November, meron na bang na declare ang DOE as unserved and underserved areas in the country?” Villafuerte asked.