Presidential candidates told to stop fixation on dirty energy sources

April 8, 2022

A consumer rights group called on presidential aspirants to champion renewable energy systems instead of promoting the use and expansion of fossil fuel projects. 

Power for People Coalition (P4P) on Wednesday lambasted some candidates who are presenting “false solutions” to the looming energy crisis in their campaign platform. 

“Many Filipinos are expecting that our energy situation will change if these candidates win. Sadly, these candidates promote another type of imported, expensive, and dirty fossil fuel,” said Gerry Arances, lead convenor of P4P, in a press briefing. 

Early this week, presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo said that she would prioritize liquefied natural gas (LNG), as a transition from being a fossil fuel-dependent country. 

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno is also vocal about using fossil gas as a bridge fuel while the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is open to reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. 

Senatorial candidate and lawyer Luke Espiritu said a nuclear power plant is “not a clean energy source and poses a great danger to the country.”

“It is very dangerous. And where are we going to get Uranium? We will import again. Nuclear power is not a cheap source of electricity. Also, it will produce radioactive waste. Who will suffer from that waste?” said Espiritu.   

Arances reminded the presidential candidates that LNG or fossil gas “is still a fossil fuel and that any new fossil fuel facility means we are displacing renewable energy (RE).” 

He said the promotion and development of a 100 percent renewable and sustainable energy system in the country will not only address the environmental and climate concerns but also put an end to the soaring energy prices.

During the press briefing, P4P blamed the fossil fuel companies for failing to provide reliable power services and triggering rising electricity bills. 

The group also accused the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Department of Energy (DOE) of failing to ensure consumers’ welfare and protection from “price shocks and abuse.” 

Arances said electricity prices, particularly in the franchise area of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), have been steadily rising, adding that consumers have been paying “for more expensive electric bills compared to the same period in the previous year.”

“By March, a household consuming 200 kWh pays Php 265 more than they were the same month last year. For a household that uses 500 kWh, this climbs to Php 664,” said Arances. 

“That is too heavy a cross to bear for consumers in the middle of an economic crisis. It’s coal and gas companies that are largely responsible for insisting on increasingly costly and unreliable energy sources, yet consumers are bearing the brunt of costs,” he added. 

In a separate statement, P4P said there was a series of red alerts from May to June 2021 in the Luzon grid “due to unplanned outages and derating of several power plants, mainly coal and fossil gas.”

“Global prices of coal and fossil gas have already been rising in recent years. Add to this the fact that power plants using these are also prone to unplanned and prolonged shutdowns,” said Arances.

He said his organization is appalled that the ERC and DOE “are letting this happen right under their noses,” adding that it should be investigated and examine whether there is connivance between Meralco and the government agencies.

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