Today, January 27, 2015 Congressional inquiry into the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), with various proponents calling for its repeal, overhaul and amendments, the Freedom from Debt Coalition reiterates its basic positions why it has been calling for EPIRA’s repeal, the junking of the government’s privatization policy and the public control of the power industry, among other demands towards making energy accessible, safe, sustainable, democratic and in the service of the people and the country’s need for real economic development.
Since the bill that became EPIRA was deliberated on the Congress floor, FDC has strongly opposed it. FDC has warned Congress and our people again and again, year after year, that privatization cannot deliver the promises of EPIRA. On the contrary, EPIRA would drive the power industry down to perennial crisis. Now, thirteen (13) years after its enactment, EPIRA is one big broken promise.
EPIRA’s Declaration of Policy from Policy A to K (Section 2) is in shambles. Instead of “transparent and reasonable prices of electricity in a regime of free and fair competition and full public accountability” (Section 2-C) we have the highest residential electricity rate in Asia and the fifth highest in the world and the second highest industrial electricity rate in Asia. At the rate power hikes occur in our country, we might end up having the most expensive electricity in the world.
After 13 years of EPIRA,
The shift to sustainable energy is very slow and is in real danger of being controlled by again by the big 3, foreign investors and other private corporations. Electric cooperatives, instead of being assisted and conditioned to democratize and be efficient are pressured to privatize with the big 3 and other foreign companies waiting to take hold of them.
In sum, FDC has been calling all these years for: (1) breaking the private monopolistic/monopsonistic hold of a few big private corporations on the power generation, transmission and distribution industry brought about by EPIRA; (2) bringing back State planning in building and developing the power industry; (3) restoring the role of the State as a major player in both generation and distribution sectors and renationalizing the management and operation of the transmission sector; (4) promotion of democratic and efficient electric cooperatives as a social partner of the State in developing the power industry; and (5) ensuring a steady and sure transition to sustainable energy.
While some of these issues may be addressed by certain amendments, so long as the power industry is privatized and under the sway of private monopsony and monopoly which is what EPIRA in substance did, these amendments will be rendered inutile and meaningless. FDC believes that nothing less than the REPEAL OF EPIRA and the institution of public control over the power industry is the rightful path to a secure, safe, efficient and affordable energy to our people.
Freedom from Debt Coalition
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines is a nationwide multi-sectoral, non-sectarian and pluralist coalition conducting policy advocacy work and campaigns to realize a common framework and agenda for economic development.