May 22, 2020

MERALCO: Serve your customers with affordable, reliable and clean power

From Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development

Manila, 22 May 2019 —
Climate groups held an online press conference today to protest against Meralco’s high electricity rates ahead of the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) hearing on the effects of COVID-19 in the power sector. The group slammedMeralco’s continued reliance on coal — the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel and the single biggest source of man-made global warming – and called on Meralco’s board members and stockholders to push for a coal phase out policy.

Meralco has announced that it will hold its annual stockholders meeting virtually on May 26.

“Meralco is one of Asia’s dirty companies who insist on expanding its involvement in coal energy. Many investors and energy companies in the region are already been moving away from coal in the face of strong peoples protests over the harm it causes to people and the environment, and its contribution to the climate crisis. Meralco should do the same.” said Lidy Nacpil, regional coordinator of Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).

“We urge Meralco to stop funding construction and operation of coal plants and phase out existing coal projects as soon as possible, before 2030. Filipino consumers deserve affordable, reliable and clean power, not a shocking surge in electricity charges and unstable power,” said Ian Rivera, national coordinator of Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).

“By continuing to operate coal-fired power plants and even planning to build new ones through its subsidiaries, Meralco serves its customers with electricity that consumers and the environment can ill-afford,” Rivera added.

The group called on the Joint Congressional Energy Commission to investigate Meralco’s profiteering during the lockdown, as well as to question Meralco’s continued reliance on coal as a source of supply despite the steadily decreasing cost of renewables and the declining economic viability of coal.

The demand for coal power continues to shrink globally in the face of competition from increasingly affordable renewable energy. Many banks and insurers have announced their exit from coal mining and coal-fired power plants. .

“We have long said the coal is a bad investment. Now Moody’s, BNP Paribas, BlackRock and many more financial institutions are saying the same thing due to increasing risks in stranded assets, climate change liability and litigation. In the Philippines, companies like Meralco have more reason to divest from coal, which is mostly imported, due to fluctuations in foreign exchange and recent restrictions on supply,” said Atty. Avril De Torres, head of Research, Policy and Law Program, Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED).

The group called on Meralco’s board members and stockholders to push for a coal phase out policy, citing there is already an excess of coal plant capacity in the power grids, causing instability.

“The transition to green energy should have happened a long time ago. It is even more vital now that we meet our commitments to mitigating climate change. Not doing so would represent our disregard for the well-being of future generations. Meralco has the influence to speed up the transition to clean renewable energy, and we urge them to do so,” said Atty. Gia Ibay, head of Climate and Energy Program, WWF Philippines.

“Meralco’s 6.6 million captive consumers will not sign up for environmental destruction and carbon emissions in the name of profit, which is Meralco’s current business model. We urge the shareholders to end Meralco’s coal addiction and steer the company towards renewable energy,” said Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, secretary general of Sanlakas.

“Renewable energy is the best option for Meralco in this decade. It will ensure cheaper electricity cost and ensure uninterrupted and reliable power supply because the source of energy is within our country, unlike coal which is imported,” said Khevin Yu, campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines.

“Shifting financial flows away from fossil-fuel investments plays a critical role in this transition because it breaks the hold that the fossil-fuel industry has on our economy and our governments, while making way for a just transition to renewable energy. We must work on all fronts to mobilize people and shift financial flows towards building a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable future that will keep global warming well below 1.5 degrees Celsius. And this requires halting all new fossil fuel development now,” said Chuck Baclagon, Asia Associate Director,

“Burning coal could never be justified because it is destroying the planet. This is why even churches around the world have joined the global campaign to phase out coal and end financing of coal mines and coal-fired power plants,” said Fr. Angel Cortez, OFM, coordinator of Ecological Justice Inter-Faith Movement (ECOJIM).

Last year, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) announced plans to divest from fossil fuel in support of Pope Francis’ encyclical on environmental care and protection “Laudato Si,” joining churches and catholic institutions around the world in the global campaign to stop investing in companies that produce destructive energy sources.

The decline in global power demand is expected to accelerate as a result of the economic slowdown induced by the Covid-19 lockdown. The Luzon lockdown caused power demand to decline by as much as 40%, according to AC Energy, a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation. Last month, AC Energy announced a coal divestment plan by 2025 and a full coal exit by 2030.