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Romero warns vs super monopoly of Leviste’s solar firm in energy sector

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

1-PACMAN Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero has warned that the Solar Para sa Bayan Corporation (SBPC) could create a “super monopoly” if Congress will grant its application for legislative franchise.

Romero said the terms and conditions of SBPC’s franchise application under House Bill 8179 seek to grant the solar firm “a master franchise to operate all throughout the Philippine archipelago.”

Romero explained that if the SBPC franchise will be approved without any revisions or amendments to their original proposal, the company would be given with a “blanket authority” that would allow it “to infringe and encroach” on all existing franchises of main transmission grids” like NGCP, as well as all the 121 existing electric cooperatives and the 19 distribution utilities all over the country.

“This law is actually bringing in a monopoly, or a super consortium, or a super corporation to the whole Philippine power sector,” said Romero.

SBPC is a sole proprietorship entity owned by Leandro Leviste, son of Senator Loren Legarda.

Romero added that most of the provisions in the terms and conditions put up by the sponsors of SBPC’s franchise application were in clear violation of the EPIRA Law since Leviste’s firm will be allowed to put up “mini-grids” anywhere they want even if these areas are already served and electrified by other players.

“The EPIRA Law has unbundled the whole power sector, this Solar Para sa Bayan Corporation bill bundled it again into one, the electric power distribution (and) the transmission (through their so-called mini-grids), as well as power generation into one super monopoly,” said Romero.

He said while all other electric power industry players were “highly regulated” by various agencies such as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Leviste’s company would have limitless boundaries since it is “not regulated” under the proposed legislation.

“SBPC would stand alone as the only power franchise that is not regulated by any other government agency (if their franchise application will be approved by Congress). A god among the mortals,” said Romero.

On Wednesday (September 12), Romero and 14 other legislators filed House Resolution 2128 urging the House Committee on Rules to bring back the franchise application to the committee level.