Murang Kuryente on Saturday rebutted Aboitiz Power Chief Operating Officer (COO) Emmanuel Rubio’s claim that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) was the key to lower electricity prices and better services, saying that this summer’s power crisis and having some of the highest electricity prices in Asia prove otherwise.
Rubio made his statements in his keynote speech at the Davao Investment Conference on Thursday.
“Power companies, whether on the generation or distribution side, love EPIRA because the law allowed them to dictate policy and prices, regardless of what consumers may think. And they have shown they will always look for loopholes to make consumers pay more,” said Murang Kuryente spokesperson Gerry Arances.
Responding to Rubio’s claim that WESM prices have a downward trajectory, Arances replied, “It’s like saying hey, in 2010 you could only eat a cup of rice once a day, now you can also have a banana with the rice. In what world is that situation better?”
Arances also took exception to Rubio’s claim that EPIRA helped solve the constant shortage of power in Mindanao four years ago.
“EPIRA was passed in 2001. That means that EPIRA has been in effect for 14 years by the time Mindanao started suffering from power shortages. Why claim EPIRA solved it four years later? Also, millions of Filipinos still have no access to electricity, 18 years after EPIRA was passed. I want to know if for Aboitiz, these people don’t count,” said Arances.
The energy consumer advocate also said that subsidies to poor households should be a given, but these subsidies must not pay for absurdly high power rates.
“Mr. Rubio is correct, other countries subsidize electricity for consumers. My take is, we shouldn’t limit our subsidies to those consuming just 100 KWh per month, and we must make sure that the government isn’t using taxpayer money to pay for rates that are absurd to begin with. Let’s lower the rates, then expand the subsidies,” said Arances.
“EPIRA should be reviewed and amended to serve public interest. Access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity is a right of all Filipinos,” he added. (PR)