KEPCO “feasibility study” for BNPP rehab: a P100 million zarzuela

Rep. Mark Cojuangco’s pet bill H.B. 6300 on the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) has been scheduled by the House of Representatives for plenary debates when it reconvenes in July.

Incongruously, while the bill appropriates P100 million “for the conduct and completion of a validation/feasibility study to determine the viability of rehabilitating, commissioning and commercially operating” the BNPP (Sec. 21), the bill jumps the gun on the study and already mandates “the immediate rehabilitation, commissioning and commercial operation” of the BNPP (Sec. 3).

There are other indications that the BNPP “feasibility study” is going to be a P100 million sham at the expense of the Filipino people, with results that are already predetermined:

– The Cojuangco bill has not been approved in the House of Representatives nor the Senate, and its becoming a law is by no means assured. Yet, Napocor has already jumped the gun on Congress, and announced that it is currently conducting with the help of the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) a feasibility study for the rehabilitation of the BNPP with a budget of P100 million. (Philstar, 5/11/09)

– The KEPCO study only began in January this year and is supposed to finish its work in October. Yet, Napocor has already jumped the gun on the KEPCO study itself, and announced that the rehabilitation, including transmission lines, will cost $1 billion. The $1B Napocor estimate is exactly the same estimate Rep. Cojuangco had earlier conjured without the benefit of a feasibility study.

– When the KEPCO study was first announced in January, it was a two-year pre-feasibility study funded solely by KEPCO (http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleid=432830). After the bill was amended to require a feasibility study first, the KEPCO study magically turned into a ten-month full-blown feasibility study and a P100-million windfall for KEPCO, at Napocor’s expense.

– As a minimum requirement for credibility, a study that will determine the feasibility of rehabilitating the BNPP must be done by an independent firm or body with no direct interest in bidding for the rehabilitation project itself. In contrast, KEPCO is actually being considered by Napocor to implement the rehabilitation project, a clear conflict-of-interest situation.

So, today, we have KEPCO, eyeing to rehabilitate the BNPP, initially conducting a KEPCO-funded pre-feasibility study which has metamorphosed midway into a feasibility study costing Napocor P100 million, although the bill allocating the amount is not yet approved by Congress, and which study, we already know, will agree with Rep. Cojuangco that the cost will more or less be $1 billion.

Given these indications, the public does not need to spend a single centavo to know that the KEPCO zarzuela will conclude in October that the BNPP rehabilitation will be a viable project.

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