Mapping Ph’s Coal Exit: CEED’s Statement on DOE’s Coal Moratorium

     On October 27, the Department of Energy (DOE) declared a moratorium on endorsements for greenfield coal power plants to build a more sustainable power system that will be resilient to structural changes and flexible to new, indigenous, and cleaner technological innovations.
     While it has yet to release an official order, the DOE’s pronouncements on the moratorium coverage so far should shelve 9 coal projects with a total capacity of 5.6 GW, comprising 40% of all pipeline coal capacity. CEED celebrates this development, which signals the country’s first step in exiting coal.

     Since the top coal developers in the country were quick to respond favorably to the moratorium, CEED urges the DOE to further expand the moratorium to the remaining 8.1 GW pipeline coal capacity. Many of these projects have not or have barely started construction due to the pandemic and years-long resistance from impacted communities, electricity consumers, and other stakeholders.

     At this juncture, it is critical to encourage investments in baseload renewables to fill-in immediate baseload demand while grid flexibility is still being improved. However, CEED questions the DOE’s policy which allows Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAAs) for large-scale geothermal exploration, development, and utilization projects. The Constitution is clear that these agreements are not allowed for forces of potential energy, such as geothermal. 

     We are likewise cautioned by the countless stories from mining-affected communities who have suffered from irresponsible and destructive FTAA mining operations, while foreign mining corporations reap huge profits and enjoy several fiscal incentives. Thus, CEED recommends that the third Open and Competitive Selection Process in the awarding of RE Service Contracts should be limited to Filipino corporations only.

     For the benefit of impacted communities, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should likewise ensure that the social, health, and environmental impacts of these projects are thoroughly reviewed and mitigated. Geothermal projects, and even other renewable energy projects, have harmful impacts, as well.
     Finally, CEED urges the DOE to take the necessary next step—map out decarbonization pathways that are aligned with the 1.5°C Paris temperature goal in the Philippine Energy Plan. These pathways should include (1) mandatory retirement of operating old coal plants at the end of their economic lifespan; and (2) early retirement of newly operating coal plants by the end of this decade, which necessitates renegotiating their power supply agreements. Most importantly, these pathways should not only promote energy security, affordability, and accessibility but also recognize and respond to ecological limits and fuel a people-centered development. 

     On a regional level, we encourage other neighboring countries to follow suit. As the ninth country in the world with the biggest pipeline coal capacity, the Philippines is sending a chilling message across Southeast Asia—coal’s so-called last bastion is set to fall sooner than expected.