Trillanes: Probe US-based power coop over unstable power supply, bloated rates

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Chicago-based energy firm Power One Corporation is under fire over its contracts that caused continuous unstable power supply and ballooning power rates in the areas of Catanduanes, Mindoro, and Palawan.

Senator Antonio Trillanes filed Senate Resolution No. 972, which provided for the Senate Committee on Energy to conduct an inquiry on the agreements signed by Power One and its project companies and affiliates.

Trillanes claimed that Power One was able to accomplish this with the help of officials from National Power Commission (NPC), the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and/or local government officials.

The senator said in his resolution that he wanted to “establish the true and real extent of the said anomaly,” as well as the prosecution of both private and public officials involved in the issue.

Trillanes said the company is doing a “fraudulent scheme” by joining the bidding for electricity supply agreements (ESAs) and contract for electricity cooperatives. The company also allegedly submitted “false” proposals on its capabilities in providing power supply needed by a province.

After being granted the ESAs, Power One was said to give out the agreements to other power providers, specifically in Mindoro, Catanduanes, and Palawan “for the sole purpose of evading their contractual obligations under the original ESAs.”

The lawmaker also added that what Power One was doing was a “deliberate attempt” to “profit” from unaware member-consumers of electric cooperatives in these provinces. The firm was also said to charge the electric cooperatives “foregone energy” or “standby energy” when it “never actually build and/or invest in power generation facilities.”

Residents of the three provinces have been experiencing “frequent and unnecessary” power outages due to Power One’s failure to comply with what was indicated in the signed ESAs, which is to install required generation capacity of the provinces.

Trillanes mentioned the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that says, even though a winning bidder is allowed to make changes in the provisions of a contract, “such changes must not constitute substantial or material amendments that would alter the basic parameters of the contract.”

In addition, the solon said that there have been consistent reports of electric coop officials and government officials in the said provinces have “failed or refused” to do something on the issue.

Trillanes said that it is important to take action on the matter as “all Filipinos are greatly affected by these anomalous practices because all of us are paying for the universal charge,” which is being implemented by the NPC in order to pay for its debts and cost of operations.

Meanne Rosales is a reporter and segment producer at Power Philippines. For content concerns, story pitches, or partnerships and collaborations, you may contact her through meanne@powerphilippines.com.

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