ERC’s approval of the PSALM’s recovery favors power oligarch’s greed

Posted:

August 4, 2017

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We in AGHAM denounce the Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of the petition Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) petition to recover P 21.47 billion pesos for the operating costs it incurred from 2007 to 2014 as it favors power oligarchs, bleeding the consumers dry from the exorbitant electricity rates.

The pass-through charges, composed of P15.55 billion from Generation Rate Adjustment Mechanism (GRAM), P2.88 billion from Incremental Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (ICERA), and P 3.04 billion Automatic Cost Recovery Mechanism or (ACRM) are unjust and will only add to the billion-pesos revenue of generation, transmission and distribution oligarchs milked from the consumers.

Historically, huge power players have been passing their overpriced operational and maintenance costs to the people resulting, paving way to the assuring them of profits. In the case of GRAM, consumers are bound to pay for electricity that they do not actually use as well as excessive rates of power contracted by Meralco to generation companies. Worse, consumers pay for the inefficiency in the operations of these power plants.

Similarly, ICERA, an additional charge pertaining to currency differential is a clear scam. Dollar rates have historically risen on the average, thus an automatic recovery of forex fluctuations also automatically increase power rates.

Clearly, as these unjust costs trickle down to consumers, with the government as facilitator, generation, transmission and distribution companies suck out their superprofits from the people. For instance, Meralco has P4.59 billion profit this year, while Henry Sy and China State owned National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has P64 billion dividends in 2014. The latter was even exempted from paying due taxes despite ranking 25th in Securities and Exchange Commission's list of top corporation in the Philippines in 2014. Meanwhile, Ramon Ang’s Global Power Holdings Corp, the power arm of the most diversified conglomerate in the country, San Miguel Corporation, grew its operating income to P26.73 billion this year.

The power crisis in the country continues as the energy industry of the country remains in the control of oligarch companies. A liberalized energy industry has led to the abuses and manipulation of the private companies that led to exorbitant pricing of electricity.

History has taught us that a privatized public utility is disadvantageous to the consumers. It also deters the potential of this country to industrialize as the energy industry is crucial in running the local industry.

We demand President Duterte to reverse the decision of the ERC to protect the consumer's welfare. He must also stop this vicious cycle of a privatized public utility that is no longer made affordable and accessible to the people. We demand the abolition of the anti-poor, anti-people and anti-development EPIRA and replace it with an alternative energy policy that gives priority to the people and not corporate profit.#

For reference:

Feny Cosico

Secretary General, AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People

(02) 282 4129