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Keep coal out of power deals, consumer group urges ERC

/ 04:10 PM December 05, 2019

MANILA — Power consumers and clean energy advocates trooped to the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) office on Thursday to demand the denial of Meralco’s new power supply agreements (PSA) now undergoing application for approval.

The protest led by the Power for People Coalition (P4P) was held in response to the ongoing series of hearings at the ERC for the six PSAs, which began on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

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“As the government body mandated to avert and penalize abuses in the power sector, we hope the ERC would be a friend to us consumers in this struggle. The ERC should stop the onslaught of dirty coal and fossil fuels upon power consumers. We are here to urge the commission to continue doing so by denying the approval of Meralco’s PSAs,” said Gerry Arances, convenor of the coalition.

Said PSAs pertain to the contracts produced by Meralco’s recent Competitive Selection Process (CSP).

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Meralco called for bids for a 500 MW capacity and another for 1,200 MW. Among the six bids that won and are now applying for approval are two coal contracts and two gas contracts, and a fifth application seeking to provide power to Meralco through a mix of coal and solar power.

“ERC should not allow the approval of these coal and natural gas power contracts. There is no reason even in business and economic sense that fossil fuels be allowed to corner a significant portion of the total 1,700 MW that are placed in bidding. Three years from now, these contracts will become stranded as the world and the United Nations will deal with stringent climate mitigation actions. It will place our country under a scary energy insecurity, since these plants will be retired before their contract life,” warned Ian Rivera, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

Rivera noted that a risk analysis tool launched last month by Climate Central showed that if burning of coal and fossil fuel will continue and pollution levels remain unchecked, by 2050, a large portion of NCR and the rest of the country will be underwater due to the rise in sea level.

“Paying for electricity for these Meralco contracts would mean Metro Manila consumers are paying for our own death and destruction as the coal and fossil plant fleet will further heat up the planet,” he said.

Arances also cited over 60 red and yellow alerts mostly due to shutdowns of coal and fossil fuel plants which were soon followed by rate hikes.

“As Meralco consumers, we refuse to be forced to empty large portions of our pockets for electricity that we could not even rely on. We had long been saying that we want cheaper and more sustainable electricity,” he added.

Arances cited a Pulse Asia survey released in August 2018, which revealed that as much as 97 percent of Metro Manila consumers are in favor of tapping into renewables for their power needs.

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The coalition also asked the ERC to ensure transparency of Meralco’s application. It actually filed a petition for intervention last week to ensure that processes would be followed.

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TAGS: Energy Regulatory Commission, MERALCO, news, power for people coalition, power supply agreements
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