Atimonan folk to critics of power plant project: Don’t block progress

July 9, 2017 - 11:16 PM
Members of the SMM-BALTAK and other residents of Atimonan rally at the ERC offices to show support for the planned power plant in their town.

MANILA – The plan by Atimonan One Energy Inc. to build a power plant will bring progress to Atimonan and put it on a par with other progressize towns in Quezon province, according to non-government groups and residents disputing claims of opposers of the project.

They recently flocked to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to show their support for the planned power plant by Atimonan One Energy, Inc.

Among the groups that expressed support were the Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Balubad, Lubi, Talaba at Kilait (SMM BALTAK), Barangay Tanod Federation, OFW Federation, Carinay Homeowners Association, Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI), Livelihood Program of Atimonan Tricycle Association, Inc. and Farmers Federation.

Greg T. de Gracia, chairman of SMM BALTAK and spokesman for the Atimonanin groups, said they want the 1,200-MW coal plant built soon in Barangay Villa in the southern part of Atimonan.

Naniniwala kami na ang power plant ay talagang makakatulong sa mabilis pag-unlad ng Atimonan at pagtaas ng kalidad ng buhay naming mga Atimonanin [We believe the plant will really propel the progress of our town and raise the quality of life of our people],” De Gracia said.

He said the Atimonanins acknowledge the benefits the project will bring, and cited Atimonan One Energy’s active consultations with residents in planning the plant.

Atimonan One Energy Inc. has a power supply agreement with Manila Eelectric Company.

Sana ay huwag pigilan ang pag-unlad ng aming bayan para sa makasariling interes ng iilan [I wish they’d stop blocking the progress of our town just to satisfy the interests of a few],” added De Gracia.

Sana rin ay pakinggan naman ng mga nasa posisyon ang tinig naming mga taga Atimonan at itulak ang pagtatayo ng power plant sa lalong madaling panahon [We hope the authorities heed the position of the people of Atimonan and pave the way for this project as soon as possible].”

Greg de Gracia of SMM BALTAK and spokesman of the Atimonan residents, is interviewed outside the ERC.

Meralco: no irregularities

On the day the Atimonan residents and groups marched to ERC to support the power plant project, Meralco told congressmen there were no irregularities in the process of application with the ERC of the seven power supply agreements (PSA) for coal-fired power plants, including the one in partnership with Atimonan One Energy Inc.

Ivanna dela Pena, Meralco vice president and head of regulatory management, also said the PSAs that the company signed with various power generation firms were “not midnight deals.”

Appearing in a congressional hearing last week, Meralco officials said the PSAs have complied with the requirements of the regulators and have undergone the process, which started as early as 2012. The applications are pending with the ERC.

The PSAs with seven power generation companies cover a total of 3,551 megawatts (MW), which Meralco said would ensure long-term energy security for its customers.

However, Bayan Muna partylist Representative Carlos Zarate, who authored the resolution that called for the inquiry to look into the agreements, said that Meralco awarded the PSAs “without bidding” to the generation companies. He said the contracts, which will have a duration of 20 years, will also oblige Meralco customers to pay at least P91 billion in generation charges every year.

Earlier, several individuals from the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and Sanlakas filed a graft complaint against the ERC commissioners before the Ombudsman for allegedly favoring Meralco in the grant of “sweetheart” power supply deals.

They said the ERC commissioners caused undue injury to the government in giving unwarranted benefit to Meralco after suspending the competitive selection process (CPS), a power supply procurement scheme requiring public bidding instead of a negotiated procurement.

The seven PSAs are the following: Meralco with Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc., which covers the supply of 225 MW; Meralco with St. Raphael Power Generation Corp. (SRPGC), which involves 400 MW; Meralco with Atimonan One Energy Inc. for the full output of the latter’s 2×600-MW supercritical coal-fired power plant; Meralco with Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC), which involves 70 MW; Meralco with Global Luzon Energy Development Corp., which covers 600 MW; Meralco with two San Miguel power plants, Central Luzon Premiere Power Corp.; and, Mariveles Power Generation Corp. (MPGC), for the purchase of up to 528 MW of capacity.

According to the ERC, two of the seven applications for PSAs are submitted for resolution, while proceedings for the rest are put on hold. With a report from Lira Dalangin Fernandez