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ERC urged to include consumers in power  contracts review

MANILA , Philippines — Murang Kuryente on Thursday joined a mobilization of consumers calling on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to include end users of electricity in discussions on the competitive selection process (CSP).

The Supreme Court earlier invalidated power supply agreements (PSAs) that Murang Kuryente and other consumer advocates had claimed were the source of unjustifiably high electricity prices in the country.

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“The ERC has talked to generation companies, they have talked to distribution utilities, but they have yet to talk to the people who would pay the price for the result of their talks – the consumers,” said Murang Kuryente spokesperson Gerry Arances.

Murang Kuryente was joined by the Power for People Coalition, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, and Sanlakas in their action held recently in front of the ERC office in Pasig City.

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The mobilization included the submission of a letter to ERC Chair Agnes Devanadera requesting for an audience to present the thoughts of consumers concerning the selection process for PSAs.

Murang Kuryente, composed of leading energy consumer advocates, has been at the forefront of the campaign to lower electricity prices since its establishment the previous year.

On Tuesday, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to coordinate their actions on promoting market competition and investigating collusions in the power sector, a move welcomed by Murang Kuryente.

“We have been asking the government to investigate the cartel-like behavior of power companies for so long. This agreement between the PCC and the DOE is a welcome development and a step forward to putting consumers first in our electricity policy, as it should be,” said Arances.

On a similar note, Arances responded to reported statements asserting that renewable energy is neither economical nor affordable at this point.

“Renewable energy now accounts for a third of the global power generating capacity, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency. In fact, coal is on the downturn everywhere else except in Southeast Asia. Study after study, and even our own experience with power supply agreements, have shown that coal is more expensive than renewable energy sources. You don’t have to buy the heat of the sun or movement of the wind, you just need to collect them,” he said.

Arances pointed out that all of the power plants which failed in the Philippines earlier this year and caused the yellow and red alerts are all powered by coal, demonstrating the unreliability of the highly polluting fuel.  (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)

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