Current government to blame for energy crisis!
Recently, during the briefing on the proposed 2015 national budget, Cabinet officials placed the blame upon the Supreme Court for the looming power crisis saying that had the high court not issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the Redondo power plant project, the problem of a possible power shortage would not exist.
In August 2012, the Supreme Court, in a decision on the petition filed by residents of Bataan and Zambales along with other civil society organizations issued a Writ of Kalikasan against Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc. (RP Energy). The Writ prevented the company from constructing a 600 MW coal-fired power plant within the Subic Bay Metropolitan Area which would have been online by 2014.
Earlier this year, the Department of Energy (DOE) through the Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla also said that they want “a bill which would fast-track the processing of permits and, if possible, no TRO against [energy] projects.”
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) asserts that there is nobody else to blame other than the current administration for the current state of energy.
“Throwing the blame at the SC will not absolve the government of its culpability,” says Gerry Arances, National Coordinator of PMCJ. “The decision of the SC merely reflected the will of the people that are against coal. The writ was reflective of the people’s stand against this government’s push for increased dependence on coal.”
Under the Aquino administration, permits granted to coal mining projects have doubled, from 39 coal operating contracts (COCs) in 2007 to 71 COCs in 2013. The number of approved coal plants has increased in the same period. In addition to 17 coal plants (with 28 boilers) with a total of 5506.2 MW capacity are currently operational across the country, 25 more coal plants (with 45 boilers) of up to 9,054 MW capacity have been approved as of mid-2014 (committed and indicative) and railroaded for final construction by 2020. This is up from 17 coal plants (with 29 boilers) with 4,584 MW approved in less than a year ago. This is in addition to another 12 more coal plants with 2,480 MW capacity proposed in the same year.
“From the very start, the Power Development Planning of the government was already flawed. It failed to provide the people a meaningful participation in the decision-making. It did not provide a mechanism that would give the people an avenue to confront the government in the event that the people felt that their choices are not reflected in government decisions.” Arances added.
PMCJ believes that the act of throwing the blame onto the judiciary is part of the grand design of the administration to circumvent democratic processes, to disempower the will of the people, and to discredit legal measures to accommodate the choice of the people. This crusade is led by none other than Secretary Petilla, supported fully by President Aquino himself, to prepare the way for the exercise of emergency powers.
The government should apply the lessons it learned at the DOE- sponsored Panay Multi-Sectoral Development Planning (MSPDP) process in 2004. The MSPDP was initially created to address the power crisis and growing concerns on the environmental impacts of power plants which resulted to a transparent process designed to provide people’s participation in the industry’s priority-setting process. The Panay MSPDP must be replicated as it was efficient in demonstrating that a grassroots process can have the technical rigor practiced by the corporate sector or the state in energy management.
Furthermore, considering that RE Law have been in effect since 2008 and the negotiations on the RP Energy project began in 2011, the government already had 3 years to perform its mandate to allow the increase of RE share in generating capacity. Had the government been diligent in pushing coal and enforcing the RE Law, that puts RE as a preferred energy choice. The energy supply in Luzon would have been sustained without the Redondo coal plant. In its own study and RE program, the DOE puts the RE potential of the country at a high level. Even without solar power, the country has 200,000 MW of potential renewable energy sources.
“The people must not be deprived of their right to participate in government affairs and their preferred choice of accessible and affordable clean, renewable energy ,” Arances concluded.
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) is a grassroots-based movement consisting of basic sectors, grassroots communities and other organizations. We are campaigning for national climate justice campaigns on on energy, adaptation/rehabilitation after Typhoon Yolanda and other issues on climate change.
Kathryn Leuch, PMCJ Energy Policy and Communications Campaigner
0936 967 8341
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