energy advocates alarmed over coal projects tagged as ‘projects of
Duterte's EO30 questioned
as anomalous coal projects given priority status
Center for Energy,
Ecology and Development
October 31, 2018
QUEZON CITY – Civil
society organizations once again raised concerns over the priority
status given to numerous coal projects through the executive order
issued by President Rodrigo Duterte, enabling the DOE-led Energy
Investment Coordinating Council (EICC) to drastically hasten the
approval process for particular big energy projects.
Most recently, the EICC
has granted certificates of energy projects of national significance
(CEPNS) to two coal operating contracts (COCs) of the Philippine
National Oil Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC), to the
dismay of anti-coal advocates and consumer groups nationwide.
declarations granting EPNS status to various coal projects in the
country confirms our suspicion that the Executive Order 30 issued by
the President is a mere ploy to railroad heavily-contested dirty
energy projects despite scrutiny and opposition from consumers and
host communities," said Gerry Arances, convenor of the Power for
People (P4P) Coalition, and Executive Director of the Center for
Energy, Ecology, and Development.
"Since the issuance of
EO30, we have warned against the possibility of the CEPNS to sweep
various issues surrounding energy projects under the rug," Arances
stated. "The two COCs recently granted EPNS status will contribute
to Mindanao's worsening coal problem, as stranding is already taking
place in its regions due to an oversupply of approximately 700 MW of
coal and hydro," added Arances, citing the recent IEEFA report on
stranded coal assets in the Philippines.
"The entrance of more coal
is ridiculously dangerous since power producers, but more
importantly power consumers have been paying almost P3 Billion from
2014 to 2016 alone because of underutilization," he continued. "This
will push electricity rates further up, to the detriment of power
consumers in Mindanao," Arances warned.
In their policy brief
regarding the President’s Executive Order 30, CEED pointed out that
the order appears to be “unconstitutional,” “grants unbridled
discretion and abuse of discretion,” and in effect, “expedites coal
“The definition of EPNS is
too broad and vague granting the EICC an unbridled discretion on
what is “significant” to be considered as an EPNS,” said Atty. Avril
De Torres, CEED Head of Research, Law, and Policy Program.
“The three coal projects
certified as EPNS sets a bad precedent. Now, carbon-intensive coal
projects which are also heavily contested and opposed and gets us
farther from our NDC can be declared as nationally significant and
be fast-tracked,” Atty. De Torres added.
Among the coal projects
given priority status was the US$3.0-billion 1,200 MW coal-fired
power project in Atimonan, Quezon, which was the subject of
"anomalous" dealings with Meralco, who owns majority shares in
Atimonan One Energy (A1E), the project's proponent.
"It was just last year
when Commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) were
suspended after giving undue advantage to Meralco and A1E by
allowing them to skip the Competitive Selection Process (CSP)
mandated by law to ensure the least cost option for consumers," says
Atty. Aaron Pedrosa of the Sanlakas multisectoral coalition. "It is
revolting that DOE through Sec. Alfonso Cusi would then certify the
project as EPNS despite the corruption surrounding it," said Atty.
"EO30 gravely puts the
interest of power producers and distribution utilities like Meralco
above the interests of consumers who pay their monthly dues and
communities who are set to host these dirty energy projects," he
continued. "Not only is coal drastically becoming more and more
commercially unviable, it has historically led to the destruction of
the climate, and the deterioration of communities' health,
livelihood, and environment," Pedrosa added.
binasbasan ng Pangulo ang planta sa kabila ng pagpapalayas,
panlilinlang, at kawalan ng kabuhayan na dinanas naming mga
taga-Atimonan dahil sa proyektong ito," said Reynaldo Opalda of
Atimonan, Quezon. ("It is saddening that the plant now has the
President's blessing even with the displacement, deception, and
destruction of livelihood the people of Atimonan has suffered
because of the project.")
"Kung ngayon pa lang
ganito na magnegosyo ang A1E sa aming lugar, paano pa kaya kapag
umaandar na ang planta?" Opalda asked. ("If this is how A1E conducts
business now, what can we expect when the plant starts operation?")