Friday, May 5, 2017

Cusi to Transco: Use Gov't Assets to Lower Power, Internet Rates

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Not at the expense of the truth and to the detriment of the public interest.

This was the unstated message of Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi when he ordered today the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) to maximize the utilization of the fiber optic assets of the power transmission facilities to lower electricity and Internet rates.

“At the onset of this administration, we repeatedly requested the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), through TransCo, to provide the details on how we can take full advantage of their fiber optic assets embedded in the grid,” said Cusi.

“I have personally asked the officials of NGCP to provide such status report, because we want to make the internet services in the country faster and more reliable with the help of our transmission facilities,” he said.

Cusi pointed out that the availability and readiness of the fiber optic assets on the transmission system could improve the electricity services of the NGCP and reduce the cost of electricity and the national broadband project.

However, the DOE as well as TransCo have yet to receive an update from the NGCP amid the sudden proliferation of full page paid print advertisements and repeated pronouncements over the media to support the government’s broadband and grid interconnection projects.

“While we are waiting for NGCP’s data and proposals on the project, there's a need to clarify the impressions that are being projected by NGCP that it is voluntarily, willing and able to provide these services for the benefit of the public," Cusi said.

Amid the apparent disregard of NGCP of the request, Cusi directed TransCo to audit the NGCP’s work program and below are the initial yet detailed findings of the company:

a) In 2012, NGCP rejected the request of the National Government for the use of spare fiber for the Integrated Government Philippines (IGovPhils) Project;

b) Concealment of a contract involving the use of the national government’s transmission assets (substations, high voltage towers/poles, and high-voltage transmission lines) as a telecommunications backbone; and

c) Decommissioning and dismantling of a separately installed Fiber Optic Network used by major telecommunications companies.

Moreover, as the owner of the transmission facilities, TransCo has been instructed by Cusi to spearhead the move for the utilization of the fiber optic assets for cheaper and faster IT services as well as to lower the price of electricity.

The DOE oversees TransCo, which is mandated to protect the national government’s interests by ensuring NGCP’s compliance with the terms and conditions of the Concession Agreement and the policies of the State. Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the NGCP was awarded the sole Concession Agreement for the country’s transmission system in 2009.

“At the end of the day, what we would like to achieve is that the consuming public would benefit from all the government deals and activities, thus we are exploring and exhausting all the potentials of the transmission system as a government-owned asset,” Cusi said.

"At the same time, the department will not hesitate to file cases against abuses or any violation of the contract which maybe discovered and proven after further investigation of the NGCP's operations and its activities," he concluded.

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