Clean-energy groups to Meralco: We’re watching your next CSP

By Lenie Lectura -December 30, 2019
from Business Mirror

A lineman from Meralco checks on electric cables in San Andres, Manila, in this BusinessMirror file photo.

CLEAN-energy advocates vowed on Monday to keep close watch over the upcoming Competitive Selection Process  (CSP) of the Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) 1,200-megawatt (MW) power-supply contract.

Gerry Arances, convenor of the Power for People (P4P) Coalition, told Meralco that consumers will uphold the goal of the CSP in securing affordable electricity from the power firms that will sell their capacity to the country’s largest power distribution firm.  “Meralco should be expecting the mistrust of consumers as they already exposed their coal greed during the first CSP, in which the TOR [terms of reference] was so obviously crafted to favor the 1,200-MW coal power plant project of Meralco’s own subsidiary, Atimonan One Energy,” Arances said. This, he added, was behind the failure of the first CSP.

On Friday, Meralco announced that it published the bid invite for the said power-supply contract. Meralco also relaxed the TOR, heeding the Department of Energy’s (DOE) call to, among others, allow both old and new power plants to participate in the CSP to foster completion.

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

The revised TOR states that bidders can offer to supply Meralco 600 MW blocks. If multiple power facilities would be utilized to supply Meralco, bidders are allowed to place a minimum bid capacity of 150 MW per unit of the same fuel type.

The contract is good for 20 years, commencing September 2024.

Meralco conducted in September the CSP for the 1,200-MW greenfield capacity.  It was declared a failed bid after only Atimonan One Energy Inc., a unit of Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen), submitted its offer.

“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 said. The 1,200-MW power-supply contract is the third CSP that Meralco is conducting following the Supreme Court’s decision to require all power contracts to undergo competitive bidding. Winning power-generation companies have already been determined for the two CSPs 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 will utilize coal as fuel source. The P4P Coalition has filed a petition for intervention in the application of the said contracts before the ERC.

“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,” said 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.”

Image Credits: Roy Domingo