From water to electricity: House set to shake down Lopez ‘power oligarchy’

The nightmare of the Lopez family is not yet over even after it lost in its bid to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp.

The House committee on good government and public accountability is looking to scrutinize the multi-billion peso, power supply contract of the Lopez family with Manila Electric Co.

Committee chair Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado said House members would review the terms of the Lopez-owned First Gas Power Corp.’s Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo plants and whether these could be adjusted or revoked.

The committee will meet on Wednesday, July 15, to investigate the spike in Meralco’s electricity rates during the three-month lockdown even with the drop in demand.

Congressman Mike Defensor raised during the ABS-CBN committee hearing Meralco’s explanation that its hands were tied on the power rats because these were based on its supply agreements with other power plants.

Defensor said this includes the Lopez power plants that account for 30 percent of Meralco’s power supply deals.

Defensor said the First Gas power deals were signed by Meralco in 1994 when the country’s biggest power utility was still in the hands of Meralco. The Salim-Metro Pacific group and Gokongwei family took over Meralco in 2010. The 25-year power supply agreements will end between 2025 and 2027.

The shakedown on power follows President Rodrigo Duterte’s attack on water utilities Maynilad and Manila Water.

Apparently, the ABS-CBN shutdown is a message to the media while the investigation into water and power utilities is a message to bilyonaryos.