After successive drops in power rates because of renewable energy and the recent inking of three 10-year Power Supply Agreements, consumers and environmental advocates rallied to demand Meralco-owned companies to withdraw from forcing more dirty, costly coal into the energy supply.
“Consumers want clean, affordable, renewable energy, not the kind of energy being forced by Meralco and its sister generation companies (GenCos) into our bills,” said Power for People (P4P) Coalition Convenor Gerry Arances. “We urge Meralco Chairman Manny Pangilinan and the rest of Meralco’s Board of Directors to get with the program and realize that time is running out for coal.”
“From the steadily declining cost of renewable energy to the pronouncement of the President urging the reduction of coal reliance, the space to get new coal plants online is getting smaller and smaller,” Arances said.
The Coalition slammed Atimonan One Energy (A1E), an energy company wholly owned by Meralco, which recently emerged as the sole bidder for 20-year power supply contract for 1,200MW greenfield capacity or supply coming from new powerplants.
“A1E has repeatedly tried and failed to get the 1,200 MW Atimonan power station up and running despite strong opposition from the public. Every step of the way, the proponents have tried to deceive and cut corners just so the plant could secure funding and permits,” said Ian Rivera of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, citing the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment, which did not recognize the pollution it would cause and specify on its mitigation mechanisms, the pending case against it and other coal projects funded by the World Bank – IFC, and its questionable acquisition of the Certificate of Energy Project of National Importance through Executive Order 30.
Rivera noted that the Atimonan power station, located near the Lamon Bay protected area, threatens its surrounding ecosystem and the livelihood which depend on it. “The project had already incurred P15 Billion worth of losses for Meralco Generation (MGen) by December 2018, the industry giant is already desperate in getting the power station operational. And in the end, it is the host communities, the consumers, and the climate who will pay for it,” he continued.
“Ang pangako sa aming trabaho ng kumpanya ay hindi totoo. Nawalan pa nga ng kabuhayan ang marami sa aming mga kababayan dahil sa pagkasira ng kalikasan alang-alang sa coal-fired power plant,” said youth leader Bianca Opalda from KAPAKANAN – Atimonan. “Ang balak na pagtatayo ng coal plant sa Atimonan ay magdudulot ng pagkasira ‘di lang ng kapaligiran kung di ng aming kinabukasan. Kami at ang susunod na henerasyon ang tiyak na maapektuhan ng planong pagtatayo ng coal plant sa aming bayan.”
Meanwhile, Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Secretary General of Sanlakas demanded accountability from the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission in letting MGen companies participate in the bidding after having tried to circumvent the process in the past. “It seems that there is a habit of letting people off the hook in this administration,” said Atty. Pedrosa, describing the situation as “Faeldon-esque.”
“After getting caught by the consumers, Meralco GenCos have the nerve to bid on the contracts they tried to acquire through sketchy means, and the regulators in ERC and DOE are just letting them” said Atty. Pedrosa. “There is no accountability if we let a companies which clearly violated the rules just re-apply without disqualification and penalties.”