Gonzalez said the EPIRA, that was passed during the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was intended, to bring down electricity rates and improve the delivery of power services.
But, he said, this has not been realized despite its implementation, and the removal of the royalties paid by the power utilities the past few years, noting that the cost of power has even gone up over the same period.
Only Congress can amend the law, Gonzalez said, adding that Rep. Henry Pryde Teves (Neg. Or., 3rd District) has assured that he will take action on the issue next year. “We are just following the law,” the mayor said in reaction to reports that some quarters were questioning the absence of the royalty fees.
Millions of pesos in royalty fees were paid each year by the former National Power Corporation, now Green Core Geothermal Inc. and the former Philippine National Oil Company-Energy Development Corporation, now the Energy Development Corporation or EDC in Valencia, Negros Oriental prior to the privatization of both corporations and the EPIRA implementation, Gonzalez noted.
The royalty taxes were paid to the provincial government, the municipal government of Valencia, and the host barangays of Caidiocan, Malaunay and Puhagan, for the harnessing of geothermal energy in Valencia, home to the 192-MW Palinpinon geothermal power plants.
Gonzalez said that since the payment of royalty fees had been halted, Valencia has, instead, been collecting business and real property taxes from Green Core and EDC.
Green Core is paying at least P40 million in real property tax each year, while negotiations are still ongoing with EDC for the same, he said.
For business taxes, the Valencia LGU is collecting about P26 million from both Green Core and EDC each year, Gonzalez added.
He also said that while he and his constituents are thankful to EDC and Green Core for boosting the social, economic and development efforts of his town, he is in favor of amending the EPIRA because government has failed to follow through with its promise of lower electricity rates. (The Visayan Daily Star)