Environmental group Greenpeace hit the decision of the Supreme Court this week upholding a 2013 approved rate hike application by the country’s biggest distributor, Meralco.
“The latest development further exposes the consequences of Meralco and other energy corporations’ dependence on fossil fuels,” read a Greenpeace statement.
The group said power producers, “which has always been incapable of meeting the country’s energy demands,” should break the “unjust practice” of passing the burden on to consumers.
The environment group said the country’s continued dependence on fossil fuels “means we are subject to price volatilities we cannot control, and to finite fuel sources … which will betray us when supplies run out.”
Activist groups also said an increase in electricity rates at this point is ill-timed as the country faces increasing oil price hikes and food shortages.
Rep. France L. Castro of the party-ACT in Congress said the approval of the “all-time power rate hike” by Meralco will only add to the burden of Filipinos.
“The government must do its job to uplift the lives of the people rather than impose heavy burdens,” said Castro.
Carlos Isagani T. Zarate of Bayan Muna said the court decision comes at “a worse time” with the prices of basic commodities skyrocketing due to the continued big time oil price hikes and the weakening of the peso.
“This is another unwanted burden on our people,” he said in a statement.
The Supreme Court this week upheld the 2013 order of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) that allowed Meralco (Manila Electric Company) to implement a staggered power rate hike amounting to PhP22.64 billion.
The high court denied the separate petitions filed by Bayan Muna and the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, which argued there is a lack of due process in ERC’s approval of the staggered power rates increase and the agency committed grave abuse of discretion.
In 2013, the ERC approved a staggered increase of PhP7.67 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the December 2013 billing and ordered an additional PhP1.00/kWh increase in the February 2014 billing.
Meralco requested for a staggered power rate hike after the shutdown of the Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. Malampaya operations and scheduled maintenance of other power generation plants. The power utility firm estimated around PhP22.64 billion worth of generation costs would be passed to consumers due to the circumstances.
The rate hike was never implemented after the Supreme Court issued several temporary restraining orders, until the high court stopped the increase in April 2014.