PNoy: No to emergency powers

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2014 12:34 PM | Updated as of Jan 15 2014 12:05 PM

BATANGAS CITY - President Benigno Aquino III is not keen on proposals for him to exercise emergency powers to deal with the high cost of electricity.

Aquino said that the situation does not call for it.

He said the Department of Energy is already investigating allegations of collusion that supposedly resulted in the increase in the power rates of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

He pointed out that the Malampaya shutdown is not an unforeseen event and was scheduled to happen every two years. He said that the power companies should have prepared for it and taken steps to address its effects.

The distribution firm earlier announced a P4.15 kwh rate increase, which was to be imposed in three tranches, as a result of the scheduled shutdown of the Malampaya gas plant. The shutdown resulted in Meralco buying more expensive electricity from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market to cover for the deficit needed in its jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court immediately stopped Meralco from implementing the increase.

The distribution firm later warned of rotating blackouts in case it is barred permanently from implementing the rate hike.

Aquino noted the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) can order power companies to return any unjustifiable profits on the part of the power firms.

He said that the effects of any bad business decision should not be passed on to consumers.

President Aquino was here in Batangas City to lead the groundbreaking of a 414-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant being built by First Gen Corporation called the San Gabriel.

Aquino lauded First Gen for its investment, which is seen to help the country meet the growing demand for electricity especially in the Luzon Grid starting in 2016.

Present during the groundbreaking was First Gen Chairman and CEO Federico Lopez, President and COO Francis Giles Puno; Lopez Group of Companies Chairman Emeritus Oscar Lopez; and Batangas officials led by Governor Vilma Santos Recto.

First Gen is owned by the Lopez Group of Companies which also owns this network.