ERC gives 3-month time frame on power supply approvals

By Myrna M. Velasco – July 8, 2017, 10:01 PM

from Manila Bulletin

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has committed to Congress that it will render its decision on the pending power supply agreement (PSA) applications, primarily that of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) in three months.

That had been asserted by ERC Commissioner Josefina Patricia M. Asirit when the regulatory body was prodded by members of the House committees on good government and public accountability and energy as to how long the approvals would be due on the questioned power supply contracts.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Congressional hearing this week, ERC Officer-in-Charge Alfredo J. Non noted that the Commission “will try to the extent we can” to beat the three-month deadline amid some intervening factors that they see getting on the way.

“It is a known fact that when we start re-opening the process, there are factors we cannot control that can delay the whole proceedings,” he said.

Non indicated that while several of these pleas to intervene had been lodged late, “it doesn’t mean that we will just junk them.”

He added “if we follow the several cases before, there were instances that intervenors have not been able to file their motions, but we have given them ample time at least to give them a chance in the process.”

The ERC admitted that it already held public hearings on most of the Meralco PSAs, primarily that of the 600MW Redondo Peninsula Energy coal plant project; 1,200MW Atimonan coal-fired facility; and 600MW coal plant joint venture project of MeralcoPowerGen and the Consunji group.

However, for the PSAs that do not have their environment compliance certificates (ECCs), the ERC officials noted that deliberation processes on the applications have not commenced yet.

Meralco had underwritten seven power supply deals for 3,551 megawatts to satiate its long-term supply portfolio, but these are being fiercely questioned by various cause-oriented groups allegedly for being “disadvantageous to the consumers” – essentially because they had not gone through competitive selection process.

When ERC was pressed on this, Non stressed “we have to look at it both ways – our job entails that we have to put the interest of consumers upfront, but we would also like to protect the investors on having fair return.”

The Meralco contracts had been exempted from undergoing competitive bidding as they were able to sign the deals and file the applications prior to the extended April 30, 2016 deadline of the CSP policy enforcement.