REP. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list wants the state to take over power utilities if the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the country’s power generators cannot deliver affordable power rates to the public.
Ridon made the statement in response to the “fear mongering” of Meralco, which warned of blackouts in the event that the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) blocking the intended rate hike is retained.
Late last year, Meralco had announced that power rates would rise by P4.15 per kilowatt hour to take effect immediately, but the SC issued a TRO last Dec. 23 preventing the implementation of the increase.
The youth lawmaker said the prospect of blackouts in the Meralco franchise area can constitute a national emergency justifying the takeover of all power utilities, from generation to transmission and distribution.
“Meralco should thus be circumspect in delivering public statements which seem to blackmail the public to simply accept the reality of very high power rates,” he said.
Ridon said the state can also take over the generation plants despite a provision in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) declaring generation plants as not public utilities.
“Despite the Epira provision, the public now knows that power generation utilities have the greatest effect on power rates. Clearly, these utilities are businesses imbued with great public interest,” he said.
Ridon, minority member of the House committees on legislative franchises and energy, said that he is also contemplating on filing a bill revoking Meralco’s legislative franchise, for its failure to provide the public the lowest possible cost of electricity.