Solon quizzes ERC over coal supply deal

  • Written by Paul M. Gutierrez
  • Published in Top Stories
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THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) continues to draw flak from lawmakers with Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate committee on energy, questioning the wisdom of ERC’s decision to approve a 20-year power supply agreement with several coal-based power suppliers entered into by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).    

In a statement, Gatchalian noted the approval came despite the emergence of renewable energy (ER) as a “cheaper” source of electricity.

“Definitely, unanimous ’yung approval nila (ERC) doon sa extension but ang tanong dito is, ‘Bakit 20 years?” Gatchalian said.

“Ang haba ng contract nila (Meralco); you have to look at the entire industry,” the lawmaker added.

Gatchalian said the ERC should take the effort “to make (cost of) power cheaper, rather than making it more expensive.”

He also bared that earlier, Meralco also entered into a power supply agreement using solar energy at a cost nearly half of those for coal on a per kilowatt hour basis.

“Meralco just went into P3.50/kwh contract for solar (energy)... while their contract for coal is about P6/kwh, so there is a huge difference in the price.
“So, my question is, why the long contract; why ‘bind’ ourselves at P6/kwh in the next 20 years when we know the price of RE (renewable energy) is going down,” the lawmaker asked further.
Gatchalian pointed to the “global trend of decreasing solar energy prices over time as a result of competitive bidding regimes instituted by other countries in their RE sectors.
Gatchalian, however, said his committee is not inclined to conduct an inquiry on the issue despite request from some quarters in view of the ongoing probe already being conducted by Congress.
“Congress is now investigating that. We are monitoring that quite well, quite closely.
“We are also already coordinating with the ERC regarding this issue to avoid duplication (of investigation).
“We’ll let Congress proceed with the investigation; we’ll just get some inputs from there and fill up whatever shortcomings there may be,” he added.