ERC sets new rules on retail power

By Myrna M. Velasco – October 21, 2019, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

With many retail electricity supplier (RES) licenses already expiring, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) indicated that it will soon be issuing new rules that will fix the concerns of players in the retail competition and open access (RCOA) domain of the industry.

Agnes T. Devanadera

Agnes T. Devanadera

ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera said they are aware that many RES licenses already expired while others are good until 2022 only, hence, the Commission will already need to issue remedial rules so the RES customers can continuously be served, despite the Supreme Court’s prevailing temporary restraining order (TRO) on the RCOA edict.

“The ERC will have issuance on that. There are certain facets of the RES market that had not been covered by the TRO so we will be issuing something. We will be acting on applications that are not covered by the TRO,” the chief industry regulator has noted.

Devanadera has not given hint on the remedial rules being worked out by the ERC though, noting that it might be a pre-emptive strike when the Commission has yet to rule on it.

In the 2017 restraining order on the RCOA policy, the high court mandated status quo ante and junked the ERC’s rules for mandatory migration of contestable customers into the retail power market.

That legal ruling had also tied the industry regulator’s hand into approving new RES licenses. The ruling confounded the dilemma of the retail power marketers of the restructured electricity sector.

The contestable customers being served by the RES had been continually done on a voluntary basis – at the 1.0-megawatt level and there are now end-users in the 750-kilowatt (kW) threshold underwriting contracts for their own power requirements.

But marketing parameters in the RES sub-segment of the industry had not been as seamless, because of the unresolved concerns yet on the expired RES licenses as well as the legal hurdles relating to propounded lowering of capacity threshold.

Devanadera thus sets off new assurances to the industry that “the ERC is studying something – and we’ve already seen a window where we can act to resolve the issues because there are aspects not covered by the TRO.”

So far, she stressed, “The TRO is not all encompassing – it is just limited to the wordings of the TRO, so there are those that had not been hit and we’ve really studied that.”