Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Angat Dam rehab delayed anew

MALOLOS CITY—The proposed rehabilitation of the Angat Dam is stalled again due to the delay in the privatization of its 246-megawatt power generating facility.

This developed as Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-Water) failed to secure a business permit from the municipality of Norzagaray, a ranking official of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) said on Saturday.

K-Water is the winning bidder in the privatization of the 246-megawatt Angat River Hydroelectric Power Plant (Arhepp) which remains under the management of the Napocor. Engineer Rodolfo German, Arhepp general manager, said the planned take-over of K-Water on March 25 will not push through.

He said this is due to non-issuance of a business permit by the municipal government of Norzagaray, Bulacan.

German said Norzagaray is demanding payment of at least P25 million for the business permit of K-Water.

Representatives of the Korean company, German said, are still coordinating with their principals in Seoul on how to go about what they perceived as “the lone obstruction” before they can operate the Arhepp.

The delay is the third in four months after the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm) Corporation made two separate announcements on the possible take-over of K-Water.

The first was in last December, then it was moved to the end of January; and when that failed, Psalm announced that March 25 is the new target date for a formal take over. The failure of K-Water to take over Arhepp also reflects the failure of Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado to intervene, observed German.

But the governor said that he already talked to Norzagaray Mayor Alfredo Germar last January to issue a business permit to K-Water and collect taxes from them later. Alvarado’s intervention came as the province demanded an immediate implementation of the proposed P5.7 billion rehabilitation on the Angat Dam’s main dike which experts said might be breached by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

He even said that if the March 25 takeover pushes through, the bidding for the rehabilitation could start as early as May. But that is to be realized since K-Water’s formal takeover of Arhepp is stalled for the third time.

German said with the latest failure of K-Water to take over Arhepp, the implementation of the proposed rehabilitation on the dam will have to wait.

However, he said the implementation might still be possible before the end of the year if the take-over of K-Water will push through. Earlier, the MWSS said that they withheld the P5.7-billion funding for the rehabilitation of the dam because part of the contract of K-Water involves spending for the rehabilitation.

K-Water won the bid in the privatization of Arhepp two years ago, but was stopped by petitions filed before the Supreme Court. Last year, the Supreme Court gave K-Water a favorable decision after it found a local partner with the group of businessman Ramon Ang. Dino Balabo