Apr 7, 2014

TUCP Partylist opposes Interruptible Load Program

Says ALL, including business must bear burden in time of power shortage

Describing the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) as "the poor
subsidizing the very rich,'' the Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP
Partylist) expressed stiff opposition to the program that the
Department of Energy (DOE) will operationalize with Meralco once the
"red alert" level indicating a power supply deficit is reached this
summer season.

Under the ILP, large commercial and industrial corporations, including
malls, will run own generator sets to power up their energy needs for
their air-conditioning, lighting and operations as a solution to the
anticipated power shortage this summer. This will free-up some power
supply that Meralco can use to service the captive residential
households and small enterprises in its franchise area. Those running
their own generator sets - the most expensive power source - will then
pass through their fuel and maintenance costs to the Meralco
consumers.

TUCP Partylist lamented that this is tantamount to a direct subsidy
from the mostly poor and middle-class customers of Meralco to the
participating industries like SM Malls and Robinson Malls owned by Sy
and Gokongwei, respectively.

"Why are Meralco residential customers going to be made to pay for
power they did not use and never consumed in their households? Why
will they be made to pay for the air-conditioning of the SM and
Robinson Malls? Anong pakialam natin kung patakbuhin nila o hindi ang
mga aircon nila? Kailan naging utang- na- loob natin sa SM o Robinsons
na kailangan tayo bilang Meralco customers ang singilin para sa
air-conditioning nila? (When did it become the obligation of the
captive Meralco residential customer to help ensure the already very
healthy profit margins of SM and Robinsons?)"

"This appears to be a wily scheme that will benefit most the big
shopping mall owners like Henry Sy of SM Group and John Gokongwei of
Robinsons Group who both holds controlling shares in the power
industry," said TUCP Partylist Representative Raymond Mendoza.

Henry Sy, Jr. is the owner of One Taipan which is a majority
shareholder in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP)
that has monopoly in the transmission sector in the power industry in
the Philippines. John Gokongwei on the other hand now owns 48% shares
in Meralco that were previously held by Ramon Ang.

TUCP Executive Director Louie Corral warned that the dominant position
of the Sy, Gokongwei and Manny Pangilinan groups in the power industry
and their equally dominant role in the telecoms, real estate, retail
and hospital sectors make ILP rife with conflict-of-interest. "What is
DOE thinking? Even the Pangilinan-led TV 5 and Smart Communications
will qualify as an ILP participant. Consumers will be bled dry on all
fronts for a price-gouging Meralco and from all these ILP participants
pretending to do as a good deed."

"We remind all these oligarchs that capitalism without risk is not
part of the social contract. Why will Meralco residential customers
have to pay to ensure that SM and Robinson malls have electricity for
their customers to enjoy comfort while shopping? It is not a social
good. These companies light up their malls at their own cost in order
to bring in customers from whom they earn as what they've been doing
until this ILP - they run their generator sets in times of brownouts
without getting paid by other electricity consumers. But now that they
are also in the power business, they want to earn both ways? Ginawa na
si Juan de la Cruz na charitable organization ng Meralco at ng mga
malls. Ano sila, sinusuwerte?" Corral explained.

"We believe that in time of crisis, power crisis in this instance, ALL
must sacrifice and all must bear the burden. This means including the
big businesses, the commercial and industrial sector, not just the
poor, often disadvantaged residential consumers," added Rep. Mendoza.

TUCP Partylist slammed the scheme, questioning its legality as it has
not even gone through the due process of a public hearing at the
Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). "As if Meralco and DOE has not
learned some lessons from its rate increase last December, and here it
is again implementing a scheme without consulting the public who will
shell out hard-earned money for power it is not directly consuming."

Corral also expressed apprehension as to why the DOE has even deigned
to look at the proposed ILP as solution to the power shortage, instead
of improving policies to ensure stable and long-term supply of
electricity in the country. "When Meralco management spectacularly
failed to ensure alternative supply for the prescheduled Malampaya
shutdown last December, its automatic solution was to charge to the
consumers the expensive power it got from the Wholesale Electricity
Spot Market (WESM). Now, DOE and its cohort Meralco will again make
the hapless Meralco consumers become the insurers and fall guy against
all the policy failings and management errors in their highly
profitable power racket."

"The power companies and big corporations of Sy, Gokongwei, and
Pangilinan are not sacrificing, they continue to benefit and will now
even double profit during crisis while others suffer from heat and the
high price of electricity," stressed Corral.

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