Consumer groups push for EPIRA review

Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - December 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Consumer groups are again pushing for the review of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) to make power generators more accountable and the energy industry more pro-consumer.

Power for People Coalition (P4P) said EPIRA should be amended in a way that would prioritize consumers, who should not be at the mercy of private companies.

This as the group called for the same accountability on power players “who have long been benefiting from an energy sector whose rules have been protecting theirs, and not the public’s interest,“ P4P convenor Gerry Arances said.

“We urge the government to own up the consequences of its bid to cut spending by handing over its duty of ensuring the country’s electricity supply over to private corporations,“ he said.

“By reviewing EPIRA, our government can hold power corporations accountable for abusive practices, and can also pass into law policies that would transform the energy industry into a pro-consumer sector,“ Arances said.

Meanwhile, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said EPIRA is in dire need of review as power prices continue to be elevated but supply has not improved since the law was enacted.

“This is possible only because privatization of power generation and distribution allowed power players to also act as their own policymakers. Consumers are thus left to fend for themselves,” FDC executive director Zeena Manglinong said.

P4P said the private corporations’ freedom to do as they please has resulted in a dirty energy sector and the prioritization of profit over service provision.

Progressive women’s group Oriang said the country’s current power mix is dominated by coal and other fossil fuels since “contracts for these fuels are most profitable for private power companies.”

“Even as government officials such as the President mutter promises of tapping into cleaner energy sources, even as the impacts to cost, health, and climate of the burning of fossil fuels become ever more apparent and vicious towards Filipinos, they find their promises hard to keep because the government handles neither the generation nor distribution of power,” Oriang spokesperson Oyette Zacate said.

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