Iloilo City, Philippines ( 08 September 2011) – Today’s guests at Kape kag Isyu are Atty. Romeo Gerochi and columnist Ted Aldwin Ong, respective chair and secretary general of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) whose warnings on rising power rates are proven true.
Gerochi sounds like, “see I told you so” when explaining that despite the promise of the Panay Energy Development Corporation (FEDC) of lower power rates once its coal-fired power plant operates, nothing significant power adjustment happened.
Power went down indeed the past three months, not because of PEDC’s generosity but because, it was forced to sell power to Panay Power Corporation, the distributor, at lower rates because the power supply agreement is yet to be approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
From the average P7 per kilowatt hour that consumers pay, the rate will go up to P10.50 once PECO starts implementing the P0.36 hike in distribution charge that the ERC recently approved. That means, consumers are now paying P1.36 per kilowatt-hour in distribution charge that gives PECO a yearly gross of P436 million from the 400 million kilowatts that it distributes.
Says Ong: “A U.P. professor describes PECO rates as the highest, not only in the Philippines but in the whole world.”
The impending power rate increase only shows that coal is not a practical source of energy, because electricity is still expensive. Gerochi adds: “Not only that, I opposed it’s construction before because of its social costs.”
Gerochi says power supplier PEDC’s rate is high and despite that, PECO the distributor, dares not oppose its application “because they are sweethearts”.
When it was still wooing social acceptance from city residents, PEDC promised three things, at least: cheaper power, jobs, and clean air.
None of that came true. PEDC people warned residents of nearby villages that should they entertain FDC and other oppositors to hold anti-coal assemblies in their barangays, they will be blacklisted from employment.
Barangays like Ingore, La Paz did not welcome the environmentalists rallying against coal. “None of them are employed at PEDC until now,” says Gerochi.
Two years from now, the 10-hectare ash dumpsite of PEDC will be full. Where will it dump its ash? That’s a question we would like to find out, answers Gerochi.
He warned that PEDC might replicate the feat of its counterpart in Cebu, the Cebu Energy Development Corporation whose 10-hectare ash pit was filled last year, after two years of operation. CEDC dumped its fly ash on roadsides and waterways, prompting environmentalistsd to sue it in court. The court issued a “continuing mandamus” stopping CEDC from its mischiehf.
“Daw arrocera lang nga gapamilin-bilin lan tinumpok nga labhan” (Just like the mobile rice mills which leave behind mounds of rice hull on roadsides),” Gerochi notes.
Coal ash has toxic contents to include heavy metals. Rice hull may be a pollutant and may cause allergy to some people, but once it decomposes, it becomes good organic fertilizer and soil reconditioner, adds Gerochi.###