The Lesson That Matters from the Ombudsman Suspension of the ERC Commissioners

David Celestra Tan, MSK
12 February 2018

When the Office of the Ombudsman handed down on December 21, 2017 its decision finding the Five (5) Commissioners of the ERC guilty of neglect of duty and abuse of discretion in favoring Meralco by extending the implementation of the CSP (Competitive Selection Process or bidding) for power supply contracts from November 5, 2015 to April 30, 2016, and suspended them for one year , it felt like it was a rare but major victory for the electric consumers.

MSK however did not view it as a conquest with the Ombudsman delivering to the consumers the heads of the four (4) Commissioners on a sling.  Rather it was a validation of MSK’s reading that the extension of the CSP was improper and illegal, a betrayal of the public trust by an agency unequivocally mandated by law to look after the public interest.

Court Findings

It was really the principle of the ruling and not the punishment that should matter to consumers and the country.

Based on certified documents submitted by both the complainant, the Alyansa Para SaBagongPilipinas (ABP) and the respondent Commissioners of the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman, found the following:

  1. “In sum, respondents are guilty of Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, aggravated by Simple Misconduct and Simple Neglect of Duty; while the alleged Abuse of Authority is deemed included in the findings of misconduct” (P. 18 of 21).
  2. “the CSP is an acknowledged mechanism to make the cost of PSAs more reasonable. Hence, accommodating companies request to be exempted from CSP was a deviation from respondents’ duty to promote public interest through the CSP requirement. (p.15 of 21),
  3. “Respondents, in dismissing the allegation that they have given undue favor to MERALCO claim that they denied its request to be exempted from CSP’s requirement. However, the issuance of the 2016 CSP Resolution, which provided a window period to DUs and GenCos to file their PSCs without the need to comply with CSP requirement, patently shows that they actually heeded MERALCO’s request.”
  4. “Respondents act of extending the effectivity of the CSP requirement, which effectively accommodated PSC’s entered by Meralco with its affiliates, and of other DUs, is beyond the authority entrusted to them by the EPIRA” “It is required that the regulation be germane to the objects and purposes of the law; and that it be not in contradiction to, but in conformity with the standards prescribed by law” (p.16 of 21).
  5. “Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service is a grave offense defined as any act which tarnishes the image and integrity of public office. By not implementing the CSP requirement which favored the filing of PSAs of Meralco and other DUs, respondents tarnished the image and integrity of their public office and reneged on their duty to protect the consumers by implementing the policy of the government against Anti-Competitive Behavior in the electricity market.”
  6. “Clearly, respondents’ acts as established by the evidence on record have prejudiced the public service and undermined the confidence of the public in the capacity of ERC to effectively implement the EPIRA and protect the interests of the public”.
  7. “By wrongfully denying the consumers the benefit of CSP, and allowing high valued and long term PSA’s and PSCs to be filed without complying with the requirement of CSP, respondents failed to do their duty to encourage market development, ensure customer choice, penalize abuse of market power in the restructured electricity industry, and enforce the implementing rules and regulations of EPIRA”

Punishment

The Ombudsman suspended for one year all Five sitting Commissioners of the ERC. Previously removed Chairman Salazar was instead penalized equivalent to six month’s salary.  Whether or not the suspension will stick depends on the grind of our justice system…. A lesson we learned many times over.

The punishment however does not really matter to the consumers. Let us not lose sight of the real issue which is the approval of the seven (7) midnight contracts signed by Meralco with various project companies controlled by its sister company MeralcoPowerGen.

Atonement and Respect for Consumers

As a measure of atonement and enlightenment, let us hope that the ERC Commissioners, if they are given reprieve from suspension, immediately and expeditiously approve or extend the operating permits (called COC) of the reported 5,000mw of existing power plants to assure that the power supply of the country during this Summer is not threatened.

And in a display of humility and respect for the consumers and the law, the ERC Commissioners should stay off the approval of the questionable seven (7) midnight negotiated by Meralco with its sister companies.

If the ERC Commissioners committed a misjudgment the first time “By wrongfully denying the consumers the benefit of CSP, and allowing high valued and long term PSA’s and PSCs to be filed without complying with the requirement of CSP, respondents failed to do their duty to encourage market development, ensure customer choice, penalize abuse of market power in the restructured electricity industry, and enforce the implementing rules and regulations of EPIRA”, them trying this time to one-up the consumers by nonetheless approving any of Meralco’s midnight contracts despite the Ombudsmans findings, would be a greater crime against the consumers and an even  more serious betrayal of public trust.

If these happen then the consumers really have lost and we as a nation have not learned any lesson from the clear Ombudsman ruling.

MatuwidnaSingilsaKuryente Consumer Alliance Inc.
matuwid.org

david.mskorg@yahoo.com

Words to Live by: “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living….after you have raised and educated your kids well”

Recent Movies I loved: Shape of Water, don’t miss it… Also “Worlds Greatest Showman” and Jumanji.

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CounterPoint: Our Rates are high because of Sweetheart Deals with Sister Generators and of Anomalous PBR rate methodology by ERC.

David Celestra Tan, MSK
9 February 2018

(This is MSK’s response to the viewpoint of Mr. Kris Balibukel  on our article Coal or LNG is not an either or question posted on December 5, 2017)  

We agree with the point of Mr. Balibukel that the Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in Asia. We however disagree that the reason is that the Filipino consumers paid dearly for the energy security and environment sustainability programs of the government.  He pointed at the government’s support for the development of indigenous Malampaya LNG, geothermal power,  large hydro power, and the subsidies for Renewable Energy under the FIT program as the main reasons.

MSK reiterates its position that the real reason for the high rates is that major distribution utilities like Meralco have been allowed to negotiate long term power supply contracts, most of them with sister generators, without benefit of market bidding and resulting to sweetheart rates that they then pass on to the consumers. MSK’s analysis of the pass on charges of Meralco power suppliers showed that the prices between sister generators and independent suppliers have been as much as P0.75 to P1.00 per kwh. And that the difference between negotiated rates and truly competitively bid power supply contracts is at least P0.50 per kwh.  And those are only for the officially published rates per kwh.  There are also sweetheart maintenance downtime payments, fuel allowances, and escalation.

Power generated from Malampaya gas was high not because of the gas and the royalty charge of the government but the take-or-pay provision and the higher capacity fees of the First Gas Power and Meralco contracts   We invite Mr. Balibukel to compare the First Gas Power prices from 2006 to 2010 with the prices charged to it by the government owned Ilijan Power that also use Malampaya gas.  The numbers will speak for themselves.

The other reason for the high rates to consumers is the anomalous PBR rate setting methodology for distribution charges which effectively allowed Meralcoto make 25% return on equity per year AFTER TAX. MSK filed a petition for changes in the PBR rules but the ERC was clearly not sympathetic to the flight of the Meralco consumers.

We also agree with Mr. Balibukel that the EPIRA Law of 2001 was designed to create competition in the power sector and in his words to convert it from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market.  We are amused though by the assertion that what MSK “espousesis to diminish that power to buy from where it is cheap”.

Because Distribution Utilities like Meralco, Davao Light, Visayan Light, have been allowed to negotiate power supply prices with their sister companies, there is no real buyer and seller of power to speak of. What we got is a buyer-sellers (as one) market and no real sellers because buyers (Meralco) and their sister generators (First Gas, MeralcoPowerGen) are one and the same.

Coal and Natural Gas have each their supply chain vagaries as energy sources.  We would like to listen to the argument that Coal is less market volatile than LNG and ergo it is better for consumers for the country to use more coal.  It rings hollow however if it is argued by Meralco who has self-interest in the bias for coal because of the 4,005 MW of coal power plants they signed with various project companies controlled by its own MeralcoPowerGen.

The argument also does not count the consequential costs of coal, the global need to subsidize clean energy, just to atone for the sins of coal.

MatuwidnaSingilsaKuryente Consumer Alliance Inc.
matuwid.org
david.mskorg@yahoo.com

Saying for the week:

“Somedays you are the dog, Other days you are the hydrant”, 
American Poster

Filipino Version: “weather weather lang yan”!

Mahal na Pangulong Duterte, Pwede Po Kaya After TRAIN, “NO to Gravy TRAIN” naman?

David Celestra Tan, MSK
23 January 2018

The way the electric consumers are being stirred up against the Duterte administrations TRAIN it is as if they are being thrown literally under the train.

Of course anytime taxes and utility rates are added, it is a burden to the Filipinos as consumers. But there are necessary and even painful burdens of citizenship and there are unnecessary and avoidable burdens.

Ironically, which one is imposed on the consumers either them as taxpayer or as fuel and utility consumers, depends on the government.

What has been going on in the Philippines is ugly. The government imposes taxes on utility inputs like fuel that are then passed on to the consumers in the name of supporting government programs but it will not do anything to protect the consumers from abuse by the powerful interests. We are forgetting that electricity service that was supposed to be VAT exempt under the Epira Law was imposed a 12% VAT tax in 2004.  Filipinos feel like both the government and the utilities (electricity, water, telephone, airlines) are ganging up on them.

Don’t you love it when utilities say they are looking after the consumers while they are abusing them more?

In the on- going additional pain inflicted by TRAIN, consumers should be sympathetic as a matter of patriotic duty and contribution to nation building. Let us brave it and give President Duterte the benefit of the doubt that those revenues will be put to better use. Meralco said TRAIN will add up to P0.10 per kwh to their customers electric bill.  But that is for now that about 35% of Meralco’s power supply mix is Malampaya natural gas. When their supply kicks up to 80% coal as they want with their sister company Meralco PowerGen, it is going to be probably P0.20 per kwh.

Those additional taxes the consumers should be able to survive.

What has been an unnecessary burden is being abandoned by the government and be left for dead under the oligarchs gravy train. We estimate that these have been costing the consumers a total of P1.00 to P1.50 per kwh.

The government’s apathy towards truly stepping up for the consumers is just mystifying and one of our country’s sad tragedies.

Mahal na Pangulong Duterte, pwede po kaya mabigyan ng pansin ang “No to Power Gravy TRAIN” naman?

MatuwidnaSingilsaKuryente Consumer Alliance Inc.
matuwid.org
david.mskorg@yahoo.com

HERE WE GO AGAIN: THE OLD GAME OF THREATENING BROWNOUTS TO OVERPOWER CONSUMERS AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

David Celestra Tan, MSK
17 January 2018

When the widespread power blackouts hit the country in early 1990’s the government and consumers gave in to all the juicy and overpriced contracts and waived environmental compliances.  Thus was born the “power crisis gambit” that the vested interests use regularly since then every time they want to overpower people resistance to approvals of high priced and negotiated power rates. And one is on-going now.

The day after the Four (4) ERC Commissioners received on December 21, 2017 the Ombudsman decision suspending them for one year for evidently favoring Meralco with 3,551mw of 20 year power supply contracts, the newly appointed ERC Chair Agnes VST Devanadera fired off a panic letter on the 22nd of December to the president of the country who appointed her, raising the specter of a crippled and devastated economy if the ERC fails to act on a claimed P1.5 trillion in utility applications for electric coop capital expenditures, and about 80 power generation projects.

The newly appointed ERC Chair according to consumer group Alyansa Para SaBagongPilipinas (ABP) gave the President a list of 14 electric coop and utility projects that will not be acted upon if there is no quorum at the ERC. Ominously, Devanadera’s list conveniently omitted the 3,551mw of Meralco Power Gen contracts that while only seven (7) applications comprised an estimated 80% of the projects that will be held. ABP said Devanadera’s list was misleading the President. We are not yet giving up on Devanadera. She just needs to stop making those “sablay” rookie mistakes.

Just today the Philippine Star that is owned by the MVP Group that owns Meralco carried a banner article saying “nearly 5,550mw of power contracts stalled amid ERC vacuum” The Article quoted ERC Chairperson Agnes Devanadera as saying “the pending contracts include 43 new certificates of compliance (COC) equivalent to 2,977.89mw, renewal of 47 expired COC’s worth 1,971,49mw and 29 expired power supply agreements which cover 544mw in supply.  But the article that is an out and out attempt at threatening and coercing the people and government is the one written by the vested interests favorite energy writer who bannered “ERC Leadership vacuum heightens blackout probability in summer”.  Article averred “because of the lacking licenses to operate and supply contracts, the country will be in for unwanted brownouts especially during the summer months.

PIPPA itself chimed in “there is an urgent need to address this issue on COC’s, PSA’s and connection agreements.”

The possibility of brownouts is true if the COC’s (permit to operate) are not issued. The point however is everyone is using those as the Trojan horse to get the ERC to act on the PSA’s pending that everyone is taking care not to mention that include the biggest pie which is the 3,551mw of Meralco contracts.

It appears all these threats are not snowing DOE Secretary’s team into restoring the guilty commissioners who have been bent on processing and approving the Meralcopowergen PSA’s specially the Atimonan One and the Redondo coal projects.

Let us breakdown the power supply projects that will be affected and not allow the campaign of the vested interests to get the plum which is the 3,551mw of Meralco, the caper that was mishandled at the ERC. The claimed 5,500mw of projects are actually built plants and needing only the issuance and renewals of their permits to operate.  This is a simple process of approval and almost ministerial in nature. These can easily be handled by OIC’s, even career directors at ERC.  If the DOE manages to get the President to appoint interim or emergency OIC’s enough to give the ERC the formality of a quorum those COC’s are easy to process. And hard to make mistakes on. They can even give automatic one year extensions given the circumstances in the public interest.

What can be worrisome at the DOE is the attempt of some parties to get Secretary Cusi to appoint the transition team at the PEMC who happen to be the same group that played a big part in the conundrum at the ERC. They are also known to be historically partial to the Meralco Cartel. The good Secretary may not be aware.

The media campaign to threaten the consumers and government officials with brownouts to get what they want is evident.  This time it is really to get the anomalous Meralco PSA’s processed. Remember that those projects if approved will not come on line until 2021 and will have no effect this summer and the next.

Talking about the Meralco Cartel’s PSA’s and the OMB findings on the ERC Commissioners, we don’t really know how things will unfold. Given our legal system and the resources behind the effort, the suspension will probably be challenged at the Court of Appeals and will end up at the Supreme Court.

The Threat of widespread brownouts is most likely part of the strategy to influence the higher Courts into stepping in “for the public interests”.

Meanwhile, the consumers could get screwed again.

Here we go again!

MatuwidnaSingilsaKuryente Consumer Alliance Inc.
matuwid.org
david.mskorg@yahoo.com

Viewpoint: Devanadera’s Letter is Misleading the President in Effort to save guilty ERC Commissioners. They must do the Honorable and Step Down peacefully so reforms can start at ERC.

Evelyn Viray-Jallorina, ABP Convenor

12 January 2018

Hon. RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang, Manila 1005

             Thru:  Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea

Subject:  Administrative Penalty Imposed on the Five ERC Commissioners and the Letter of Newly Appointed ERC Chair Agnes VST Devanadera Dated 22 December 2017

Dear Sir:

Greetings!

The Alyansa Para SaBagongPilipinas (ABP) was formed a year ago, inspired by your call for changes towards a better Philippines.  ABP is the complainant at the Office of the Ombudsman on the anomalous extension of the CSP bidding policy to accommodate Meralco.

New ERC Chair Agnes Devanadera had apparently written a panic letter to the Office of the President warning of the serious consequences for the country and consumers if the four (4) Commissioners found guilty and suspended for one year for  “grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and gross neglect of duty” are not spared from the suspension.

Clearly, new Chair Devanadera is asking the President to ignore the violations of the law and misconduct. It is regrettable that after expressing her “sincere gratitude” to the President “for entrusting her to be the Chairperson of the ERC”, Devanadera would proceed to participate in misleading the President on the true situation at the ERC in a naked attempt to save and condone the guilty commissioners.

Kindly allow us to comment on Chair Devanadera’s claims in her 22 December 2017 letter.

  1. Devanadera’s letter was prepared and sent to the Office of the President on the 22nd of December, only the day after the Four Commissioners received the Ombudsman decision on the 21st. Obviously the contents of the letter and the justifications were just fed to her by the four commissioners.  She did not even study the case for a few days.
  2. Devanadera wrote the letter in Panic since as she admitted she is not prepared for the job.
  3. Devanadera clearly is trying to scare the President into exonerating the four guilty commissioners instead of quickly looking for replacements so that true reforms can start at the moribund regulatory agency.
  4. Devanadera wants to retain the corrupt system and organization instead of leading a reform for the better.
  5. Devanadera gave the President a lengthy list of 14 electric distribution utilities and projects nationwide that will not be acted upon “due to lack of quorum” to mislead the President.
  6. The delays in the ERC actions on those projects have been a chronic inefficiency at the regulatory agency and if a quorum is provided within 30 days, there is little effect on the claimed applications.
  7. It is glaring that of the list of fourteen (14) decisions and applications listed by Devanadera to the President, she conveniently omitted the Meralco applications for 3,551mw of negotiated power supply contracts which is actually 80% of the power generation applications filed during the questionable period of January to April 2016. It is regrettable that a newly appointed Chairman of the ERC will give a list that is deceptive and not honest to the President that appointed her.

We hope the Office of the President will not allow itself to be manipulated and mislead.  There are ways to quickly bring about a quorum at the regulatory agency instead of the backward solution being pushed by new Chair Devanadera.   The naked attempt at deception is regrettable.

The Ombudsman decision is clear on the violations of the law and a giant step forward to reforming this ERC that has been a captive of the oligarchs at grave injustice to our electric consumers.

We also call on the four ERC Commissioners to do the honorable and peacefully step down and allow the badly needed reforms at the ERC to start.

Very truly yours,

Alyansa Para saBagongPilipinas

Evelyn Viray-Jallorina
Executive Director

Viewpoint: Ombudsman’s Unfounded Suspension of the ERC Commissioners Will Have Severe Economic and Financial Impact on the Country

Atty. Agnes VST Devanadera
Chairperson and CEO, ERC
22 December 2017

RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang, Manila 1005

THRU: Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea

Dear President Duterte:

Allow me again to convey my sincere gratitude for entrusting me to be the Chairperson of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) vice Jose Vicente B. Salazar. I accepted the position as my humble contribution to your stewardship as the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

Unfortunately, barely two (2) weeks upon assumption into office, I have been informed by three Commissioners (Non, Yap-Taruc, and Magpaje-Asirit) of their receipt on 21 December 2017, of the following orders issued by the Office of the Ombudsman – Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.

  1. Resolution on OMB-C-C-16-0497

For: Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended (Criminal Case)
Findings: With Probable Cause, Recommended for Filing of Criminal Information.

  1. Decision on OMB-C-A-16-0438

For: Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, Grave Abuse of Authority, Grave Misconduct, and Gross Neglect of Duty (Administrative Case)
Findings: Administratively Liable for Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, aggravated by Simple Misconduct and Simple Neglect of Duty, Penalty of One (1) Year Suspension Without Pay.

The aforementioned Ombudsman cases stemmed from the issuance by the ERC of Resolution No. 1 series of 2016 restating the effectivity of the Competitive Section Process (CSP). The same complainant, Alyansa Para SaBagongPilipinasInc (ABP) etc, filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 with prayer for issuance of TRO before the Supreme Court questioning the validity of the ERC Resolution. To this date, however, no TRO has been issued by the Supreme Court and neither has there been any finding of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Commissioners who issued the assailed Resolution. Hence, it was unfounded for the Ombudsman to hold the Commissioners liable administratively and criminally.

The debilitating impact of the Ombudsman decision to suspend the four (4) incumbent ERC Commissioners cannot be downplayed. Section 38 of R.A. No. 9136, otherwise known as Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) provides that “the presence of at least three (3) members of the commission shall constitute a quorum and the majority vote of two (2) members in a meeting where a quorum is present shall be necessary for the adoption of any rule, ruling, order, resolution, decision or other act of the Commission in the exercise of its quasi-judicial functions. Thus, decisions and official actions of the ERC can only be made through the collective action of the members of the Commission. With the penalty of suspension imposed upon the four commissioners, the undersigned as Chairperson will be without authority to make decisions, orders, rules, resolutions, and any other act, resulting in a severe paralysis of the operations of the agency.

Significantly, in terms of monetary value assigned, the amounts involved in pending applications/petitions for approval before the Commission are as follows:

Capital Expenditures (CAPEX)                                         PHP 384.5 Billion
Point-to-Point                                                                       PHP      2.2 Billion
Sale of Subtransmission Assets cases                              PHP      0.9 Billion
PSA Applications                                                                  PHP      1.2 Trillion
135 Pending cases
Accrued Interest of FIT ALL Fund                                    PHP    526.7 Billion
TOTAL                                                                                     PHP       1.588 Trillion

At present, there are 18.4 million electrified households.  If a regular household has four (4) members, then a total of 73.6 Million Filipinos that will be affected by any non-action on the part  of the Commission.

Likewise, it is noteworthy to state that ERC remits to the national coffers from its actions on petitions and applications, no less than 450 million pesos annually.

Certainly, the Ombudsman’s decision presents a dangerous regulatory risk that will severely impact the economic and financial environment of the country.  Needless to state, the Ombudsman’s decision will cause an economic disruption which is contrary to the President’s pro-poor policy.

In view of the foregoing, due to the imminent impact of the suspension of the four (4) Commissioners, I would like to seek your guidance regarding the implementation of the Ombudsman Decision considering that Section 7 of Administrative Case No. 07 (AO No. 7) provides that “A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of course”. Likewise, in relation thereto, Ombudsman’s Office Order No. 409, Series of 2013 states that:

In order to facilitate the implementation of Decisions and Orders issued in administrative cases and to effectively monitor compliance therewith, the Office finds it essential to address all indorsements of these Decisions or Orders to the head of any office or agency of the government.  The Office considers the head of the office or agency, being the appointing authority, to be primarily responsible in implementing Ombudsman Decisions or Orders.

Given that the President is the appointing authority of the ERC Commissioners, the undersigned is respectfully submitting the matter to your sound discretion.

Very respectfully yours,

AGNES VST DEVANADERA
Chairperson and CEO

Editors Notes:
In the interest of transparency we are sharing with the public the letters of the ERC Chair and the Alyansa Para SaBagongPilipinas (ABP) to the Office of the President related to the unprecedented suspension of the four (4) ERC Commissioners by the Office of the Ombudsman. ABP was the complainant on the anomalous extension by the ERC Commissioners of the implementation of the CSP policy that enabled Meralco to avoid holding a bidding for 3,551mw of 20 year power supply and instead negotiated them with its sister company MeralcoPowerGen.

Electric Consumers’ 12New Year’s Wishes on ERC

David Celestra Tan, MSK
30 December 2017

We hope that the OMB findings on infractions of the five ERC Commissioners in evidently facilitating Meralco’s evasion of the CSP deadline, will lead to somethings better not only to changes in personalities but also in the regulatory soul of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

It’s a New Year and we hope again for better treatment of consumers by the ERC.

  1. We wish that new ERC Chair Agnes Devanadera will be an agent of positive change for a more balanced and efficient ERC with a clear sense of regulatory purpose, and for her to be judicious and cautious as she starts to immerse herself in this complex and treacherous power sector. (Actually it is not that complex if navigated with the right heart and moral compass).
  1. We wish the ERC had been awakened from its regulatory stupor and hypnotized capture as an institution and will resolve to remain free and discover the wondrous life fulfillment of standing up for truth, justice, and the rights of the long exploited 100 million Filipinos.
  1. We wish the ERC Commissioners and their OIC’s will discern that there can be a happy balance between assuring that capitalists providing electric delivery services can be assured of fair return on their investments and protecting the interest of the electric consumers and the country’s energy competitiveness. That the capitalists (and ERC) will realize that it is to their long term interest to treat customers with respect and that the way to win their loyalty long term is to provide good value in services. Not in overcharging them through their captured regulators. Electricity, especially its distribution, is after all a public service that is essential to the daily lives of our people and economy. 
  1. We wish the appointing party, the Office of the President, will step in and avoid the paralysis at the ERC by bestowing it with quorum of three through the deferment in the suspension of the two least guilty of the four suspended commissioners while he is looking for proper replacements. (Except however for these extended commissioners to be not involved in evaluating the Meralco midnight contracts).
  1. We wish the ERC will find a win-win resolution to the eight (8) Power Supply Agreements totaling 4,015mw awarded by Meralco to power generation projects controlled by its sister Meralco PowerGen where the CSP deficiencies of about 2,000mw are resolved to assure the country has additional power supply by 2021 and for the remaining 2,015mw to be subjected to open competitive bidding. And for it to similarly resolve with transparent guidelines the estimated 300mw of PSA’s signed by electric cooperatives and filed with the ERC from November 6, 2015 to April 30, 2016.
  1. We wish the ERC will commit to the pursuit of truly least cost power by assuring true competition and to the assurance of future supply by opening the power generation sector to independent generators and preventing monopolization and cartelizationFor it to start hearing MSK petition Case No. 2017-007 on cartelization and to clearly define the rules on determining concentration of market power in generation. For it to establish clearer rules on when swiss challenge CSP’s would be justifiable, an area that is being abused in the off-grid areas resulting to disadvantageous PSA’s that increase missionary subsidies in the billions.
  1. We wish the ERC will stop the overpricing of power by eliminating the inequities of the PBR rate making methodology or Performance Base Rate making and the systems loss loopholes that had been enabling Meralco to make an unconscionable 25% return on equity for a franchised distribution utility monopoly that had been granted by the state.
  1. We wish the ERC as a quasi-judicial body will be more quasi for the public interest and less blindly judicial in its processes that had been making it consumer unfriendly. We wish ERC will free itself from being enamored as a judicial institution and pursue not only the letter of the Epira Law and its guidelines and resolutions, but temper its decisions with a spirit for public interest. The what for consumer interest to be as important as the how of its judicial processes.
  1. We wish for the ERC to become more efficient and timely by strengthening itself on areas that it needs to regulate and shedding those areas that it does not need to regulate.Towards efficiency and transparency, for it to issue clearer guidelines for applications.
  1. We wish for the ERC to strengthen its bureaucracy by enhancing its ability to recruit, train, and retain needed right-hearted talent and professionals. 
  1. We wish new Chair Agnes Devanadera will infuse the ERC with a code of conduct to avoid its Commissioners and officials from being compromised specially by the vested interests.
  1. We wish for the ERC to be blessed by President Duterte, as the appointing authority, with the right commissioners who would have the professional competence and heart for the consumers, not beholden to the vested interests, and committed to the pursuit of the ERC’s mandate to assure sufficient supply of power at fair, reasonable, and least costs.

We wish for the President as he goes about making his choices, to be guided by His Infinite Wisdom, to realize this rare and crucial opportunity to finally right the course of this wayward Agency that has been neglecting our people and country for so long. We cannot let down our future generations and curse them with the legacy of a power industry lost in its own disarray, forever enticed and captured by the vested interests, and incapable of looking after the public interest. 

(And we hope in the process he does not recycle old ERC people who messed up the Agency in the first place).

 

Happy New Year to all!

Thought for this Giving Season: “To the world you are one man, to one man you are the world”

 

Matuwid na Singil sa Kuryente Consumer Alliance Inc.
matuwid.org
david.mskorg@yahoo.com