The Power for People Coalition (P4P) and other groups on Wednesday filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals against the Department of Energy (DOE) for two of its department orders (DO) which favor the use of gas at the expense of all other power sources, a move that will translate to higher electricity prices for consumers.
P4P was joined by Konsyumer, Youth for Climate Hope (Y4CH), Sanlakas, and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) in the petition, which seeks to prevent DOE from enforcing DO No. DO2023-05-0015 and DO No. DO2023-10-0022, and the National Electrification Administration’s (NEA) Memorandum No. 2023-56, which provides implementing guidelines for the latter. Both DOs provide preferential treatment for electricity from gas-fired power plants, including contract offerings exclusive to gas.
“The DOE is showing its bias for gas, even if it is expensive and has to be imported. It has previously drafted a circular that would have required distribution utilities to have a certain portion of their electricity come from gas, regardless of the cost relative to other sources of electricity. We told them then we would sue if they proceeded. They did not release the circular but released these two DOs, so now we are suing with and in behalf of all consumers who would suffer higher electricity rates from these issuances,” said Gerry Arances, P4P Convenor.
Aaron Pedrosa, Sanlakas Secretary-General, and counsel for the petitioners, said, “The DOE and NEA, in these issuances, are illegally appropriating for themselves power that they do not possess. There is no law which empowers these government agencies to implement bidding procedures tailor-made for gas.
“Instead, prevailing laws require distribution utilities to undergo competitive selection processes (CSPs) to find the least-cost electricity possible. The DOs issued by DOE and the memorandum issued by NEA are doing the exact opposite by extending preferential treatment to gas, which is imported, expensive, and polluting. Why the bias for gas?” Pedrosa added.
“Even if we assume Malampaya gas is not about to run out, its prices are still pegged to world market prices. We know from our experience after the start of the Russia-Ukraine War that gas prices can and do skyrocket to un-affordable levels. Pakistan and Bangladesh are now suffering from power crises because they relied heavily on gas and now cannot pay for their electricity,” said Arances.
"These issuances show that DOE intends to promote gas beyond a supposed 'bridge fuel.' This opens the floodgates for gas, hindering the transition by crowding out renewable energy. This compromises our energy security and ability to pay for electricity, precisely the opposite of what the department was established to do,” he added. (PR)