RAMON, ISABELA: Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is set to solicit proposals on developing two of its coal-fired power plants after the Supreme Court ordered early last month that companies must subject their power-supply agreements (PSAs) to public bidding, a Cabinet official said on Thursday.

“For the building capacity, I’d like to inform you that we have sat down with Meralco and we are going to…subject to [the] CSP (competitive selection process) [nearly] 2,000 megawatts [of coal-fired facilities] by the end of this month,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said in his speech during the switching ceremony for SN Aboitiz Power Inc.’s floating solar project here.

Noting the urgency of putting the power giant’s coal plants in Atimonan town, Quezon province and Subic town, Zambales province to public bidding, the Energy chief said the invitation would be published in a newspaper of national circulation in compliance with the high court ruling.

“I think the publication will be within this week…and they [will] present to me the TOR (terms of reference) anytime now,” he told reporters after the event.

In its May 3 decision, the high tribunal ruled that all PSA applications submitted to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on or after June 30, 2015 must undergo competitive bidding.

CSP is designed to protect consumers, and rules under them require distribution utilities (DUs) to get at least two offers for power supply before awarding a deal, ensuring that consumers get the least cost.

Following the decision, the Department of Energy repeatedly called on Meralco and other power distribution utilities to fast-track the competitive bidding of its supply agreements and ensured the compliance of industry players.

Meralco, the country’s largest power distributor, has pledged to speed up the bidding for its deals to ensure the continued power supply in Luzon.

Earlier, Meralco President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Espinosa said the company would subject its agreement with Atimonan One Energy Inc. to competitive bidding.

The listed power firm is planning to construct a 1,200-MW coal-fired power plant in Quezon and 2 x 300-MW circulating fluidized bed (CFB) coal-fired power plant in Zambales.

These two facilities are part of the seven PSAs of Meralco with its affiliates, covering more than 3,500 MW of electricity.