ERC, PCC agree to hold joint probes on competition issues in power sector

By Lenie Lectura – August 6, 2019
from Business Mirror

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) signed Monday a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that allows both agencies to jointly conduct investigations related to competition matters in the power industry.

“Our MOA with ERC exhibits how the competition agency and sector regulators play complementary roles in promoting competition in the sector while fulfilling their respective mandates.

“Our partnership allows for the sharing of information and coordination of enforcement actions toward a more robust competition landscape in the energy sector,” said PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan.

In particular, PCC’s partnership with ERC allows for the conduct of joint fact-finding inquiries. It also facilitates consultations with institutions or firms such as the Philippine Electricity Market Corp., the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines and generation companies to obtain relevant information.

The MOA between ERC and PCC comes a month after PCC’s MOA with the Department of Energy (DOE).

The MOA between PCC and DOE established collaborative mechanisms such as information sharing, investigation support, joint task forces and, continued capacity building and consultations.

A tripartite task force between PCC, DOE and ERC was formed ahead of the MOA to coordinate inquiries on alleged collusion or abuses of dominance in the power industry through information exchange and fact-finding, given the policy mandate of the DOE, the regulatory functions of the ERC, and the market competition lens of the PCC.

The three agencies are expected to make headway in probing allegations of collusion or abuse of dominance amid a series of shutdowns among power plants that may have contributed to increases in electricity prices earlier this year.

The PCC earlier announced a launch of an assessment on whether the power plants’ outages were manipulated to increase electricity prices or were valid unplanned breakdowns that affect supply conditions.

“The PCC and ERC recognize the merit of adopting a coordinated approach toward the shared goal of promoting competition in the power industry. We are confident our combined expertise and investigative capacities will lead to a stronger push for competition enforcement in this critical sector,” Balisacan said.