ERC scored for rejecting petition against Meralco’s coal contracts
Civil society and consumer groups as well as homeowners have expressed dismay over the decision of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to reject a petition for intervention filed against Meralco’s Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) involving 3,551 MW of coal with its sister companies.
“The rejection of the petition is not only a rejection of the consumers’ right to transparency and accountability from distribution utilities like Meralco and the Energy Regulatory Commission, it also rejects their right to choose cheaper and cleaner energy alternatives than those offered by Meralco and its partners,” said Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) Executive Director Gerry Arances in a statement issued Wednesday.
CEED, along with multisectoral coalition Sanlakas, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Koalisyong Pabahay ng Pilipinas (KPP) and other member organizations of the Power for People (P4P) had filed a petition questioning various irregularities concerning the process of application, as well as negative consequences which would arise if Meralco’s application is granted.
“These ‘sweetheart deals’ between Meralco and Meralco-owned coal companies are clear attempts to box out competition, particularly those from the renewable energy sector offering to sell power generated at a much lower cost,” said Arances.
“Industry experts have already pointed out that rejecting these deals will enable more renewable energy to enter the power mix, which is just what the country needs as renewable energy’s share has been declining since 2009 despite the passage of the Renewable Energy Law,” he said.
Arances stressed that the PSAs, covering the period of 2020 to 2040, are a way for Meralco to secure the extension of their franchise which is set to expire in 2028. “If approved, Filipinos will be trapped in relying on and paying for costly, dirty, and deadly energy from coal for the next 20 years, even if renewable alternatives are actually getting cheaper as we speak.”
Successive protests in front of the ERC, Meralco, and its sister companies followed the submission of the petition, demanding that the ERC reject the coal contracts.
The ERC signed the decision rejecting the petition on August 30, but was docketed and released on Sept. 14.
Last Saturday, homeowners from NCR and surrounding regions covered by Meralco’s franchise assembled to collectively condemn Meralco’s PSA applications and urged the government to reject them through a motion for reconsideration.
“Invoking technicalities in their rejection shows clear double-standard from the part of the ERC, as they were so willing to set rules aside when Meralco passed their application hours after ERC closed its doors to meet the deadline, which meant that they would not be required to undergo a competitive selection process (CSP) and public bidding,” said Sanlakas Secretary General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, one of the convenors of the assembly.
“Our petition, filed in the spirit of the consumer’s right to reasonable and accessible electricity rates and our constitutional right against a healthful and balanced ecology, was clearly rejected in favor of profit and the electricity oligarchy,” he said.
Sanlakas previously filed an Ombudsman case against ERC, charging its top officials with graft after the office suspiciously moved the implementation of CSP rules four months after taking effect, leaving the door open for the Meralco to skip the process.
“If our motion for reconsideration is still rejected by the ERC, we will not hesitate to go to the courts in calling for the junking of Meralco’s dirty contracts,” Pedrosa said. “We have been hurt for far too long. It’s time to end this abusive relationship.”