A consumer group believes that the government’s moratorium on the construction of new coal power projects should have ended Kingstone Energy’s bid to supply part of the Manila Electric Company’s (MERALCO) 1,800-megawatt (MW) power needs.
Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan (AGHAM) stressed that Kingstone’s bid was covered by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) coal moratorium, which it imposed in October 2020. Thus, the group said that it was just right that Kingstone was outrightly disqualified.
Kingstone, a new player in the Philippine power sector said to be with Chinese financial backing, was among the three power generating firms disqualified from the power giant’s ongoing competitive selection process (CSP).
“There is a serious national and energy security issue, if Kingstone comes to fruition, this will mean that China controls 1,200 MW power supply in Luzon. This is surely a security issue of the most important and highest level in the national sphere. Given these serious and grave concerns for the Kingstone project, it is right that they should be removed immediately and permanently from the CSP, as they did not meet the bare minimum rules and regulations outright,” AGHAM president Angelo Palmones said in a statement.
As seen from the previous CSP in 2019, Palmones said the power auction’s terms of reference are clear-cut. This time around, the three disqualified firms simply did not make the cut. AC Energy and Solar Philippines, the other two disqualified bidders, are expected to appeal their bids.
Of most urgent note, Palmones said the CSP had to cut off Kingstone because not only were its plants unqualified, but it was represented solely by a law firm throughout the bidding process. He added that records showed that its equity ownership is spread over several offshore companies with no clear credible power company in control.
“If the Kingstone project succeeds, China will not only have control over transmission but will also become a major player in generation. This would be a threat to our power and energy ecosystem,” the radio broadcaster and former party-list lawmaker warned.
Palmones emphasized that Filipino consumers should not be treated as guinea pigs for the provision of as basic a commodity as electricity.
“Since this new coal power plant has yet to be put up, the question of the proponent’s proven capability and expertise comes into play, with the lingering threat of China lurking in the background. Hence, bidders like Kingstone should not anymore interfere with the CSP and the bidding process, as this will only work against the development and growth of our country and its economy, as we continue to need additional power supply. No more appeals or contentions should be made because clearly, they did not meet the standards being set by the government in the first place,” he said.
Think-tank Infrawatch PH earlier urged the DOE to implement stricter rules in future power auctions. MERALCO, meanwhile, will be opening the remaining bids on Friday (February 19).