Consumers, climate justice advocates question ‘dirty’ power deals
MANILA — Climate justice and consumers’ rights advocates on Tuesday raised queries at the first hearing of Meralco’s application to pass six Power Supply Agreements (PSA) from its recently concluded Competitive Selection Process (CSP) at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The Power for People Coalition (P4P) has filed a petition for intervention at the ERC, questioning the results of Meralco’s CSP. It said the bidding outcome is worrying for Filipino consumers and climate-vulnerable Philippines.
“We are pleased that after over two years of Meralco’s insistent efforts to evade biddings for their power supply agreements, the Competitive Selection Process finally took place,” said Gerry Arances, convenor of P4P. “We find it alarming, however, that Meralco is still so set on ensuring that power consumers remain tied to paying for dirty energy in the coming decade while also suffering the impacts of destructive power generation.”
Of the six PSAs now undergoing the approval process in the ERC, at least 1,460 MW comes from coal and other fossil fuels.
“Meralco is rushing the approval of these new PSAs because its existing contracts worth 1,905 MW, most of which comes from coal-fired power plants, are expiring by the end of this month. But before consumers and all groups pushing for clean energy can rejoice over the end of these coal contracts’ reign, we learn that coal-obsessed Meralco is replacing dirty energy, also with dirty energy,” Arances noted.
The said contracts set to end before the year ends include Meralco’s PSAs with the Masinloc coal-fired power plant (430 MW), Therma Luzon coal plant (350 MW), and a coal facility of San Miguel Energy Corporation (430 MW).
Ian Rivera, National Coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, added that Typhoon Tisoy’s fury should already be causing proponents to rethink their PSA applications.
“Meralco claims to be of service to Filipino consumers, yet it insists on burning more coal and fossil fuels that send us plunging into deeper and deeper floods every year,” he said.
The group also raised concerns over the opaque nature of Meralco’s application.
“We filed a petition for intervention to ensure that consumers’ voices are heard in the approval process of these PSAs, as they are the ones who would be shouldering the price of dirty energy from coal and fossil fuels, both that which is printed on their monthly bills and external costs to health, climate, and the environment,” said Atty. Avril De Torres, legal counsel of P4P.
But according to her, “all six applications contain a motion for confidential treatment of information, which would make it hard for consumers to find out where their money goes moving forward.”
“These motions…make it certain that consumers will never get an answer to an important question they rightfully ask: what am I actually paying for?” argued Arances.
He added that this plea for confidentiality would further obscure an already unclear process of computing rates.
“As advocates of consumers’ welfare, we of course do not wish for the lights and lanterns decorating Filipino homes to be switched off come Christmas day,” Arances added, pertaining to the Dec. 25 end of Meralco’s existing PSAs.
“While abundant renewable energy sources are available, there is no reason why these coal and fossil fuel contracts should be allowed to poison us and our atmosphere with dirty energy,” said Rivera.