Cusi: PEMC should pursue case vs Aboitiz

by Lenie LecturaJuly 20, 2016

from Business Mirror

ENERGY Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi strongly believes that the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) should pursue the case against a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp. for alleged breaches in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

“They should pursue [the case]. They know their duties,” Cusi said in a text message.

The PEMC Board is chaired by the energy secretary.

For more than 10 years, Cusi served as director in the shipping business of the Aboitiz group. As such, his appointment as DOE chief has raised concern, given his ties with the Aboitiz family, whose power business accounts for 70 percent of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc.’s earnings.

Cusi also dismissed any possible conflict of interest. “Let us put it this way. They are my competitors. I have been out of Aboitiz since 1990. I have been on my own business since 1991. I believe they are the last one to know about the DOE post,” Cusi earlier said.

Cusi was referring to the Batangas-based shipping company Starlite Ferries Inc. He served as chairman of the shipping company.

He emphasized that he will ensure a level playing field for energy-related projects. “Puro big players ’yan, they know what they are doing. We have to make the playing field level para sa lahat. Wala naman siguro ’yung favoritism na ’yan,” Cusi said.

PEMC recently asked the Supreme Court (SC) to review a court decision that junked its appeal to impose a P235-million fine against Therma Mobile Inc. (TMO). PEMC’s filing before the SC came after the Court of Appeals (CA) upheld in December last year the April 2015 decision of Branch 157 of the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City.

PEMC later on filed a motion for reconsideration with the CA, but the latter denied it on April 22, 2016.

The court case stemmed from a PEMC investigation that found TMO to have withheld its capacity during the November and December 2013 supply period. As a result, the agency penalized TMO.

Under the must-offer rule, generation companies registered in the WESM must declare and offer the maximum generating capacities of their power facilities in the spot market.

“When it comes to PEMC, our concern is only breaches in WESM rules. When it comes to anticompetitive rules… this is for ERC [Energy Regulatory Commission] to find out. It’s beyond [our] jurisdiction,” PEMC President Melinda Ocampo said.

In January this year, Aboitiz Power said it is willing to continue negotiations with PEMC to resolve the dispute between the two.