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Meralco warned: No tolerance for coal tricks in CSP bidding

/ 12:53 PM December 30, 2019

MANILA — Watch out, Meralco. Clean energy advocates will be on guard to uphold the goal of the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) of securing affordable electricity for consumers.

This was the warning aired by the Power for People Coalition following the release of the Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco) new terms of reference (TOR) calling for bids for its 1,200 MW power requirement.

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“Meralco should be expecting the mistrust of consumers as they already exposed their coal greed during the first CSP, in which the TOR was so obviously crafted to favor the 1,200 MW coal power plant project of Meralco’s own subsidiary, Atimonan One Energy,” said Gerry Arances, Convenor of the Power for People Coalition, noting that this is what led to the failure of the earlier bidding process.

“We welcome the changes that Meralco made in their terms of reference for this second bidding after the Department of Energy’ prod, but we have not forgotten how intent Meralco is on making sure their customers are burdened by costly and dirty electricity from coal,” he said in a statement issued last Saturday.

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The 1,200 MW bid is the third that Meralco is conducting following the Supreme Court’s decision to require all power contracts to undergo the CSP. Winning generation companies have already been determined for two bids with respective capacities of 1,200 MW and 500 MW, the contracts of which are now under application for approval at the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Of the six contracts, three again see coal serving as fuel source. The P4P Coalition has filed a petition for intervention in the application of the said contracts.

“Even the DOE expressed concern over Meralco’s blatant favor for its own coal power. We echo this distress, as even with the new TOR, Meralco’s insistent false brandishing of coal as a cheap electricity source and of its Atimonan coal project as clean are highly alarming,” Arances stated.

“No longer can Meralco, or any distribution utility and energy authority in the country, still hide behind the excuse of securing stable power supply to promote coal – not when coal has already revealed itself to be unreliable and costly.”

“We are closing 2019 with among the highest records of red and yellow alerts in just one year for the Luzon grid–all because most of our electricity is sourced from coal power plants that take days to resume operation when they encounter problems and are forced to shut down. These low reserve periods are almost always followed by a rate hike, resulting in a double inconvenience for consumers who lose both their electricity supply and then more of their money to pay for Meralco’s terrible service,” stressed Arances, who is also the Executive Director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development.

According to the group, Meralco should instead take the 1,200 MW CSP as an opportunity to walk its clean energy talk by expanding its renewable energy portfolio, as “Meralco in October loudly trumpeted their intent to develop at least 1,000 MW of renewable energy in the coming five to seven years, even creating their own RE subsidiary, MGreen. So far, however, this green promise is coming up short; all talk and no action.”

“Meralco must stop damning power consumers to decades more of expensive coal power in between its green energy PR stunts. As a private company responsible for crafting and executing its own bidding rules, Meralco has all the means to make the playing field level for renewable energy sources whose costs have been rapidly decreasing in the past decade,” argued Arances.

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“We challenge Meralco to take on a new year’s resolution of securing clean and affordable electricity for its power requirements. This is how Meralco can prove that they have the consumers’ interest, not their own, at heart,” he said.

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TAGS: competitive selection process, MERALCO, news, power for people coalition, power sector, power supply deals
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