DOE ban on coal power plants should end bid outright – consumer group

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THE Department of Energy’s (DOE) existing ban on coal power projects should have ended one of the bidders’ chances to supply part of Meralco’s 1,800-megawatt power needs.

In October last year, the DOE issued a moratorium in endorsing greenfield or new coal-fired power plant projects notwithstanding committed projects and expansion projects, including indicative power projects with land acquisition or lease contracts and accomplished and secured local statutory and regulatory permits.

“Our group stresses that the Kingstone project is actually covered by the DOE Moratorium against coal power plants. Thus, they are outrightly disqualified. There is a serious national and energy security issue, if Kingstone comes to fruition, which will mean that China controls 1,200 MW power supply in Luzon. This is surely a security issue of the most important and highest level in the national sphere. Given these serious and grave concerns for the Kingstone project, it is right that they should be removed immediately and permanently from the CSP (competitive selection process), as they did not meet the bare minimum rules and regulations outright,” according to Angelo Palmones, Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan (Agham) president.

Agham is a group composed of scientists, engineers, researchers and science workers.

As seen from previous rounds done two years ago on the strict CSP, Palmones said the terms of reference of the bidding are clear-cut. This time around, the three disqualified firms simply did not make the cut.

Of most urgent note, Palmones said the CSP had to cut off the Chinese-backed Kingstone because not only were its plants unqualified, but it was represented solely by a law firm throughout the CSP process.

He added that records showed that its equity ownership is spread over several offshore companies with no clear credible power company in control. “If the Kingstone project succeeds, China will not only have control over transmission but will also become a major player in generation. This would be a threat to our power and energy ecosystem,” he warned.

Palmones emphasized that Filipino consumers should not be treated as guinea pigs for the provision of as basic a commodity as electricity.

“And since this new coal power plant has yet to be put up, the question of the proponent’s proven capability and expertise comes into play, with the lingering threat of China lurking in the background. Hence, bidders like Kingstone should not anymore interfere with the CSP and the bidding process, as this will only work against the development and growth of our country and its economy, as we continue to need additional power supply. No more appeals or contentions should be made because clearly, they did not meet the standards being set by the government in the first place,” Palmones said.

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