By FLORO L. MERCENE
An overwhelming majority of electricity consumers support a Congress-approved measure giving Solar Para Sa Bayan (SPSB) non-exclusive right to operate microgrids in unserved or underserved areas in selected provinces.
The measure once crafted into law would cost the government nothing.
Facebook posts reached over two million supporting the measure.
This is consistent with a recent Pulse Asia survey showing an average 82 percent of Filipinos favor having new options for electric service. About 88 percent in Metro Manila, 78 percent in Luzon, 84 percent in Visayas, and 83 percent in Mindanao.
Officials of local government units (LGUs)—including Misamis Occidental Gov. Philip Tan, a former mayor of Tangub City; Mayor Carl Pangilinan, Paluan, Occidental Mindoro; Mayor Katrina Orencia, Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental; and Mayor Froilan Andueza, Claveria, Masbate—have written to President Duterte attesting to the positive impact of SPSB’s benefits.
However, several groups representing the entrenched power industry are opposing what they have mis-labeled as A “mega-franchise”—conveniently omitting that the proposed SPSB franchise is non-exclusive; limited to remote, unserved, and underserved areas in selected provinces.
These vested-interest groups that have failed to provide electricity to remote and unserved communities are unduly raising the bogey of a mega franchise, silent on the fact that the SPSB bill was actually watered down by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The SPSB measure will not create a mega franchise because the 17th Congress’ version submitted to President Duterte included amendments for a non-exclusive franchise, limiting its scope to “remote and unviable, unserved, or underserved areas.”
The watered down bill subjects would-be franchisee to regulation by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the Department of Energy (DOE), pursuant to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), among others.
The six amendments debunk the phony charges by existing electric utilities — that have been entrenched for over 100 years–greatly benefitting from EPIRA, which has failed to give Filipinos low-cost, reliable electric service since it was enacted into law in 2001.
These vested-interest groups are ganging up against the slightest threat that competitors offer, like cheap and regular electricity supply.
SPSB has been operating in 12 towns in eight provinces and benefiting over 200,000 Filipinos.
Tags: Floro L. Mercene