TUCP slams Petilla
for inutility on brownouts, world class rates; proposes declaration of
national emergency on power to address problem once and for all
July 12, 2014
QUEZON CITY – The
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) chided Energy Secretary
Petilla for his being inability to address brownouts and increasing
The group, instead, proposes
a declaration of national emergency on power so that the country will
cease being a victim of the vicious cycle.
TUCP described the “red
alert” status issued by the Department of Energy, warning as to
insufficient supply this weekend as the tip of the iceberg.
“Our ship-of-state is
sailing full speed ahead, in a collision course with the twin -peak
iceberg of lack of power and MERALCO’s never-ending price increases.
The DOE is placing our economic take-off at risk and is setting the
stage for an impending economic meltdown,” said TUCP Executive
Director Luis Corral.
“The TUCP requests that the
DOE Secretary to call a spade a spade and advice President Aquino that
there is now an emergency in the power sector, requiring a
multi-agency response with clear directions from the President, “said
The labor center in a
two-hour audience with President Aquino this April 30 requested the
President to declare an emergency and establish a multi-agency group
under him to address the power crisis. The DOE instead set up a task
force study group which the TUCP and labor coalition Nagkaisa.
Corral laid the
responsibility with the DOE for not laying down clear policy
parameters and accompanying strategies to ensure secure power supply
or to define competitive rates.
“The DOE doesn’t have these
two items which can be technically defined by engineers, financial
analysts and industry practitioners. In the absence of crisis
leadership, electric power policy is veering from one Supreme Court
case, still unresolved, to a new Supreme Court case, from ERC caps on
a supposedly free-market activity to a more complex two price-cap
mechanism and now to a pitiful DOE Task Force on Power Rates whose
arcane and complex debates are further obscuring one central fact:
That power Philippine Power Policy is in this climate of drift is
firmly in the hands of a socially irresponsible and financially greedy
power generation sector,” he explained.
In the midst of this,
consumers are supposed to rely on the oversight of an Energy
Regulatory Commission headed by the Napoles-challenged Zeny Ducut,”
said TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay.
“While there is a lack of
secure and reliable supply, government should step in to put up
additional capacity. If bilateral contracts between power distributors
and generators will better lower rates and approximate true costs,
then suspend the WESM until a technically developed percentage of
supply reserve is set up to engender real competition. If there is
cheap hydropower available during the rainy season, then run it
instead of keeping it as ancillary reserve while the more expensive
coal and oil plants are run,” Tanjusay said.
He said this can be done
without need of amending EPIRA,” All it takes is Presidential courage
to announce an emergency and the need for a national response. Then
all the players can be prodded, cajoled and otherwise mobilized to
restore sanity to the electricity industry."
The TUCP also called for an
end to “blue skies” wishful thinking that somehow the DOE target to
increase solar from 50 Megawatts to 500 Megawatts, will ease the
burden of the supply deficit.
Solar has at best an
efficiency capacity at best of 20%, 500 MW really means 100 MW and
that will never be large enough or reliable enough to be base load for
large industries. Also, this will be done with a feed-in-tariff that
will jack up rates by an average of 18 centavos per kWh for the next
"Solar seems to be the
flavor of the month, Two years ago the flavor was privatizing the
power barges and last year it was pushing generation sets. In Mindanao
DOE could have rehabilitated the Agus Pulangui hydro-electric complex
as demanded by Mindanawons, they did not , so the UP experts are
predicting 200 plus days of brownouts for Mindanao next year. In the
meantime the DOE rushed implementation of the Retail Competition and
Open Access program which we fear will further drive up rates for the
captive residential households of MERALCO,” Corral added.
TUCP attributes the deflated
5.9% GDP growth rate in the first quarter as being driven by
insecurity of businesses in our power supply. TUCP also attributed the
inflation rate of 4.7% in May, the highest in 30 months, on the
spiraling cost of power. They said energy officials preen with
confidence about the manageability of our power crisis and yet we are
made to pay for their failure of political leadership.
The labor group said the
country is hit by the triple whammy of spiraling costs of goods and
commodities, an interruptible load program that allows Robinson's and
SM to power up their generators to energize the lights and
air-conditioning of their malls when there are NCR brownouts and be
able to charge it to MERALCO customers, and now the real threat of
retrenchments because businesses are losing because of no power and
high power costs.
TUCP has warned that the
ASEAN Integration come 2015 requires a clear energy roadmap. "A
wrong-headed energy roadmap will be fatal to all other industry
roadmaps. If there is no power, there will be no investors and there
will be no jobs," Tanjusay said.