PH power: High rates and brownouts
MANILA, Philippines – Rappler talks to Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla about issues hounding the energy sector today.
In December, consumer groups and the media zeroed in on Manila Electric Company's (Meralco) controversial rate hike. At P4.15 per kilowatt-hour, the hike was a historic high, prompting groups to file petitions before the Supreme Court to stop it. (READ: SC to gov't: Explain Meralco rate hike)
Meralco blamed the increase on the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility and simultaneous outages of its other power plant suppliers that forced it to buy more expensive power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).
The hike as well as the outages are being investigated by the Senate and a tripartite committee composed of the Department of Energy, the Energy Regulatory Commission and the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation, the operator of WESM.
Senator Serge Osmeña, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, ordered DOE to submit the results of the probe before January 15; the agency has yet to submit a report.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the matter on January 21.
Aside from Meralco's rate increase, the DOE is faced with the challenge of fully restoring stable power in areas ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
In November, Petilla announced he would step down as Energy Secretary if his department failed to restore power in these areas by December 24.
Petilla made good on his promise, tendering his resignation after announcing that 3 towns hit by Yolanda remained without electricity by his self-imposed deadline. Petilla remains in his position today after President Benigno Aquino III rejected his resignation. (READ: Aquino rejects Petilla resignation)
Why was Meralco's rate increase so high? Is there evidence to support the reports of collusion among power suppliers? What's the power situation in Yolanda-hit areas today?