Consumer group urges ERC: Speed up Meralco PSA review

By Lenie Lectura -December 5, 2019
from Business Mirror

Meralco linemen repair a power cable in this file photo.

CONSUMER advocate Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) on Wednesday urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to fast-track its evaluation on the power-supply agreements (PSA) of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) that underwent competitive selection process (CSP).

LKI President Victor Dimagiba said consumers await the P0.4008 per kilowatt hour (kWh) savings once these PSAs with Phinma Energy Corp., South Premiere Power Corp., First Gen Hydro Power Corp. and San Miguel Energy Corp. take effect.

“If the regulator acts on these PSAs as soon as possible, this will mean that consumers will not be burdened by high power rates, which have been brought about by power plant outages and high power generation costs. The more supply of power our country has, the laws of supply and demand show that prices and costs will go down,” said Dimagiba.

LKI submitted last December 2 its motion and manifestation in the matter of the petitions of Meralco for approval of the PSAs.

In its motion, Dimagiba noted that Meralco needs a total 1,700 megawatts (MW) of power capacity to continuously supply electricity in its franchise area for the years to come.

“We have still been experiencing yellow and red alerts in November, which is a telltale sign that we need to secure adequate power capacity to meet the growing demand of the grid…the possible cost implications of these PSAs must be confirmed and evaluated as we speak, since this may have a major impact on consumers. It would truly be great holiday news for customers if their cost of electricity will go drastically down as promised by these PSAs. We at LKI definitely look forward to that,” the advocate said.

During the first public hearing held this week, climate justice and consumers’ right advocates raised various concerns.

The Power for People Coalition (P4P), which filed on November 29 a petition for intervention at the ERC, questioned the results of the competitive bidding.

“We are pleased that after over two years of Meralco’s insistent efforts to evade biddings for their power-supply agreements, the CSP finally took place,” said Gerry Arances, convenor of the Power for People Coalition. “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, the P4P noted that at least 1,460 MW would be sourced 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 the end of these coal contracts’ reign, we learn that coal-obsessed Meralco is replacing dirty energy, also with dirty energy,” Arances noted.

Image Credits: Nonie Reyes