Consumer group urges ERC to fast-track power agreements

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    Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) said 1,700 megawatts (MW) of power is needed by Meralco to continuously supply electricity to its franchise area before the end of the year and thereafter.
    Force majeure. Meralco customers can expect lower pass-on charge.

    Consumer group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) has reiterated its call to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to fast-track the approval of power supply agreements (PSA) applied by Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) together with several power generators to avoid possible supply disruptions.

    Vic Dimagiba, LKI president, said 1,700 megawatts (MW) of power is needed by Meralco to continuously supply electricity to its franchise area before the end of the year and thereafter.

    “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, especially with so many power plants going on outage even in the Ber-months. The need for additional electricity is of utmost urgency and importance to our economy,” Dimagiba said.

    Another consumer rights group, Power for People Coalition, is questioning the results of Meralco’s earlier competitive selection process set for approval of the ERC although these must already be effective by middle of the month.

    The group said of the six PSAs now undergoing the approval process, at least 1,460 MW will be sourced by Meralco from coal and other fossil fuel-fired power plants.

    Earlier, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said he has written to Meralco to make sure there is enough power supply during the summer.

    “I’m asking them what are their measures to make sure they can cope with the increase in demand and that there is an assurance of supply. I asked them how will they cover for the increased demand in their franchise area during the summer and the coming years,” Cusi had said.

    Other distribution utilities and power cooperatives will also be asked about their strategies to meet the expected demand growth, he added.

    “Demand for power is increasing and it’s both good and bad. Good because it means the economy is improving, more activities, but bad since we will be needing to fast-track the development of capacity and it’s not that easy,” Cusi said.

    Amid this scenario, Cusi said the DOE has yet to agree with Meralco on the terms of the competitive selection process (CSP) for 1,200 megawatts (MW) worth of baseload power.

    He said the agency is still hopeful Meralco will heed its recommended changes in the CSP especially on allowing the aggregation of stacking of smaller power plants to fill the 1,200 MW, instead of getting the entire supply in a single project.