Consumer group dares ERC to reject SMC-Meralco petition for electricity price hike

September 1, 2022

The Power for People Coalition (P4P) urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to reject the motions by Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and SMC Global Power Holdings Corporation for an electricity price hike last Tuesday.

The ERC called for an en banc clarificatory hearing on the petition, recently filed by the two companies to compensate for PHP15-billion losses incurred from the operations of the Sual coal plant and Ilijan gas plant. They also aim to recoup these losses based on high costs of gas and coal in the global market.

Gerry Arances, P4P Convenor, claimed that there is no reason to grant said request. He criticized SMC’s threat to terminate existing power supply agreements with Meralco if ERC fails to respond, as the company still posted a PHP17.9-billion net income from last year up to the first quarter of 2022.

“SMC has the gall to threaten consumers and lock them in a hostage situation,” he said, referring to a potential 30 percent increase in electricity prices starting in October if the petition is granted.

Arances also added that SMC President Ramon Ang said himself “they chose the fuel and the rate at which they bid with. They should bear the consequences of their choices”.

Luke Espiritu, lawyer and former senatorial candidate, agreed that SMC Global Power is forcing the ERC to make a rash decision that would only add more burden to electric consumers.

“They claim losses but have not provided any documentation of financial unviability, only citing high coal prices and Malampaya gas restrictions,” he said.

Espiritu, who represented P4P member-groups in the clarificatory hearing via Zoom, also stated that SMC should be penalized for its warning of ending the power supply agreements. He said that “they want new prices while completely glossing over the fact that they were the ones who made their computations on what price to bid”.  

During the clarificatory hearing, P4P members led by Arances staged a protest outside the commission’s office in Pasay City. He challenged new ERC Chairperson Monalisa Dimalanta to side with the consumers and dismiss the motion of SMC.

“Will SMC be penalized for what is essentially cheating when they bid low and then moved to terminate its contract when they are not able to fulfill it? Only the ERC itself can answer that,” he said.

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