Renewable energy advocates, citizen’s groups decry Congress’ recommendation for Meralcocontracts

Civil society organizations slammed the recent recommendation issued by the House of Representatives Committees on Energy and Good Governance and Public Accountability supporting the approval of Meralco’s controversial deals with its affiliate generation companies.

“After almost a year of investigating the irregularities surrounding Meralco’s seven Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) with its sister generation corporations, the House of Representatives Committee on Energy ended up recommending the approval of the questionable contracts,” said Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) Executive Director Gerry Arances. “This goes against the facts and evidence presented by civil society, affirmed by the Ombudsman’s finding of possible collusion between Meralco and the ERC,” he continued.

Quezon Representative Cong. Danilo Suarez filed the motion to recommend the contracts for approval after Bayan Representative Cong. Zarate moved to investigate the anomalous deals entered into by Meralco without the required competitive selection process (CSP), suspiciously waived by the ERC for the distribution utility.

“CEED has twice presented in the hearings conducted by the Committees on Good Governance and Energy the effect of approving these contracts on the environment, the electricity bills of consumers, and the country’s commitment to abandon coal and increase the share of Renewable Energy,” said CEED Legal Officer Atty. Avril De Torres. “While the decision to approve these contracts lie solely on the ERC, the recommendation of the House of Representatives may overshadow the various irregularities surrounding the deals, and their negative implications on the consumers,” she continued.

De Torres reiterated how these PSAs accounting for 3,551 MW of power will “lock in millions of Filipinos to relying on costly and dirty energy from coal for at least twenty years” once approved.

“The opportunity cost of losing the interest of coal investors is not enough to subject the end-users to such an unfair deal,” De Torres responded to Rep. Suarez’s comments. “The resolution disregards the willingness of clean energy companies to fill in the energy needs of the consumers while respecting the governing rules ensuring that consumers will be provided the cleanest, most competitive energy option,” De Torres continued.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa of the multisectoral coalition Sanlakas, among the oppositors in the applications filed by Meralco and its affiliate coal companies, denounced how Meralco has successfully mobilized support from almost all branches of the government, even with its “blatant disregard for good governance and the rights of the consumers.”

“From the TRO by the Court of Appeals lifting the suspension of the seven ERC commissioners suspected of colluding with Meralco, to the Lower House’s recommendation of Meralco’s power deals, the country’s largest power company has successfully maneuvered to getting its way at the expense of Filipino citizens,” said Pedrosa. “On top of that, it is using fear tactics to scare consumers into thinking that the rejection of their contracts will lead to massive brownouts, which the House of Representatives reflected in their resolution,” he said.

“The recommendation issued by the Lower House is also a slap in the face of those who will be affected by and are actively resisting the construction and operation of coal fired power plants, most notably those in Atimonan, Quezon, the very constituents of the recommendation’s mastermind, Rep. Danilo Suarez,” Pedrosa noted.