BAYAN MUNA ALARMED OVER ERC OK OF CONTROVERSIAL MERALCO UNIT PROJECT
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate today expressed alarm and indignation over the reported decision of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to approve the construction of a P1.7-billion transmission line for a power plant project of a subsidiary of Manila Electric Company that is under investigation for possible improprieties inimical to consumers.
The approval of the transmission line comes even before the ERC has completed its review of the power supply contract between Meralco and the power plant in question.
“The approval suggests that the approval of the PSA, which is being questioned in various fora -- including the House of Representatives, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Supreme Court, and even Malacanang itself-- is a foregone conclusion,” Rep. Zarate said.
“Does the decision to approve the transmission line project for the 1,200-megawatt project of Atimonan One Energy Inc. (Atimonan One) mean that ERC has already approved the supply agreements (PSA) not only between Meralco and Atimonan One, but, also between Meralco and six (6) other Meralco-controlled generation companies?”, Rep. Zarate asked.
The seven (7) PSAs that Meralco awarded without bidding to Meralco-controlled generation companies will oblige Meralco customers to pay at least P91 billion in generation charges every year. Information about these staggering amounts can be gleaned from the PSA applications themselves.
Over the 20- to 21-year duration of the contracts, Meralco customers will be paying almost P2trillion in generation charges. The staggering amount excludes other costs to customers, such as distribution and transmission line charges.
The ongoing congressional inquiry, under House Resolution No. 566 filed by Bayan Muna on 21 November 2016, aims to review and determine whether the PSAs for 3,551 MW are for the interest of the Filipino consumers. Specifically, the probe aims to determine if:
1)the PSAs are disadvantageous to consumers;
2)Meralco engaged in illegal or improper self-dealing; and
3)such actions were facilitated by the ERC in violation of its own rules and procedures.
“These are serious allegations involving not only billions but trillions of pesos to be taken from the already overburdened pockets of Meralco customers. These must be investigated and resolved before the supply agreements can be acted upon. For these PSAs to be approved before the investigations are completed could be harmful to the interest of the general public,” Rep. Zarate said.
He added that the ERC’s decision to approve the transmission line for the Atimonan One project “looks like an attempt to clear the way for the eventual approval of the PSAs themselves.”
“We read a published report that Malacanang likewise has ordered an investigation of the ERC commissioners for their dubious ties with Meralco. If ERC commissioners persist in accommodating the dubious deals, they risk facing not only contempt but also criminal charges,” Rep. Zarate warned. ###