Decision on power price collusion out by mid-2016

by Danessa O. Rivera – December 18, 2015 – 12:00am

from The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is targeting to come out with a decision by mid-2016 on whether the 12 power players withheld power supply in December 2013 which resulted in record high increase in electricity rates.

The ERC assigned the cases the Office of the Solictor General (OSG) for swift decision-making on the market collusion probe, ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar told reporters in a briefing late Wednesday.

The case was transferred from the commission’s Office of the General Counsel and Secretariat (OGCS) to allow for an independent prosecution on the issue, he noted.

“Solicitors will conduct prosecution and they will present evidence before us. The other side can present controverting evidence. We can consolidate all these,” Salazar said.

“By mid of next year, we will finish the probe on the administrative component, the violation of the anti-competitive behavior visions of the Constitution and of our laws,” Salazar said.

The commission restarted the probe with pre-hearing conferences in August this year, following the appointment of former Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar as chairman of the ERC until July 10, 2022.

In its report released last June, the ERC’s Investigating Unit (IU) said 12 power players withheld power supply, considered an anti-competitive behavior, during the December 2013 period.

These 12 power players are state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), Pan-Asia Energy Holdings, ThermaMobile (TMO), CIP II Power Corp., Trans-Asia Power Corp., 1590 Bauang, AP Renewables, Udenna Management Resources Corp., Strategic Power, GNPower, SEM-Calaca and Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

During that time, Meralco’s generation charge surged to P9.10 per kilowatt-hour in December 2013 and to P10.23 per kwh in January 2014.

The Supreme Court then stopped Meralco in charging the record-high power rates to its customers.