ERC now has no commissioners

By Alena Mae S. Flores – January 24, 2018 at 07:10 pm

Power industry players on Wednesday asked Malacañang Palace to resolve the leadership impasse at the Energy Regulatory Commission after the agency implemented an order this week to suspend all its four commissioners.

“A fair and functioning ERC is critical for the energy sector to work. A working regulatory body balances the welfare of the paying consumers, interests of the private investors, and the government’s desire for reliable and ample power,” Aboitiz Power Corp. president and chief operating officer Antonio Moraza said.

Moraza issued the statement after the ERC implemented the suspension order against the four commissioners of the agency.  “The order is already implemented,” ERC spokesman Floresinda Digal said when asked for comment.

ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera previously held in abeyance the implementation of the suspension order pending a directive from the Office of the President.

“Already implemented as directed. We needed to wait for this directive as OP is the appointing authority. That is what the law provides,” Devanadera, a former Justice secretary, said.

The Office of the Ombudsman ordered a one-year suspension of four ERC commissioners in December for allegedly exempting Manila Electric Co. from the competitive selection process in power supply agreements. The four commissioners are Josefina Patricia Asirit, Alfredo Non, Geronimo Sta. Ana and Gloria Yap-Taruc.

Only newly appointed ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera was left to man the commission, thus leaving the agency “paralyzed” to issue crucial decisions in the energy sector.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi also asked the Office of the President to appoint temporary commissioners while Devanadera requested that the implementation of the suspension be put on hold.

“We are appealing to the national leadership to resolve the ERC issue as soon as possible so the commission can get back to work and act on many pending issues awaiting their decision,” Moraza said.

Devanadera warned that the suspension would have far-reaching consequences as it puts in peril energy investments with pending applications before ERC worth P1.588 trillion.

Broken down, the amount involves capital expenditures application worth P384.5 billion, point-to-point projects estimated at P2.2 billion, sale of sub transmission assets costing P900 million, power supply applications worth P1.2 trillion and accrued interest from the feed-in tariff allowance of P526.7 million.

Aboitiz Power said it was awaiting the issuance of certificate of compliance for projects and approval of its power supply agreements.

Aboitiz Power is set to add 500 megawatts of attributable capacity this year with the completion of  hydro and coal-fired plants located around the country.

The company owns the 340-MW Therma Visayas baseload power plant in Toledo City, Cebu and a stake in the 400-MW Pagbilao 3 baseload power plant in Quezon.

Aboitiz Power and partner SN Power recently completed the construction of the 8.5-MW Maris Canal hydro project in Isabela, while wholly-owned subsidiary Hedcor is wrapping up construction of a 68.8-MW hydro plant in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

Aboitiz Power is the holding company for the Aboitiz Group’s investments in power generation, distribution, and retail electricity services.

The Ombudsman ordered a one-year suspension on all four commissioners of ERC in December for Meralco’s alleged exemption from the competitive selection process for power supply agreements.