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NGOs call for more aggressive moves to adopt renewable energy

CONSUMER groups said the Department of Energy’s (DoE) plans for renewable energy (RE) need to be reviewed to ensure consistency with the objective of providing competitive rates, adding that the DoE must move more decisively to wean the country away from coal power.

Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) said over the weekend that it was “cautious” on plans by the Energy department to set a “green” rate for renewable energy players.

LKI President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba was referring to the DoE’s plan to set a ceiling price for new renewable energy firms to attract investors and promote competition in the sub-sector.

“[W]e must focus on what the rate impact will be. DoE should show that there is no subsidy for RE under their proposal. Hopefully this is not an innovation of the Feed-in-Tariff and FIT Allowance power rate scheme, which the consumer group had consistently opposed,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Dimagiba said the DoE should conduct a public consultation on its proposal, adding that the agency already has rules calling for a competitive selection process (CSP).

“There is already CSP, and that is why CSP is put in place. CSP is there to ensure lower rates so now we are questioning the objective of the green rate,” he said.

Separately, Murang Kuryente, which advocates for cleaner and cheaper power sources, said the DoE’s stance on renewable energy does not go far enough in steering the power mix away from coal.

In a statement during the weekend, it noted that although DoE was “encouraged” by President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s favoring renewable energy over coal-fired power plants, “energy security also requires diversification beyond RE.”

In a belated reaction to the President’s State of the Nation Address, the DoE said on Thursday that power plants fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal are needed in the transition towards more RE.

“So long as coal remains a fixture in the country’s energy mix, consumers will continue to be gouged by electric companies and hit further with climate change and health issues. There is no transition needed, except to bring RE power plants online and deactivating coal power plants. To do anything otherwise is to deceive both consumers and the President,” said Gerard C. Arances, Murang Kuryente spokesperson.

He said his group was “very wary” of the transition period because the power plants in the pipeline “all slated to operate at least 20 years into the future.”

He questioned why it was difficult for Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi to obey the President, who gave the “marching orders.”

“Secretary Cusi, in creating space for coal, is being insubordinate, at the cost of money and health to the Filipino energy consumer,” Mr. Arances said. — Victor V. Saulon