ERC struggling on resolving more than 1,000 case backlogs

By Myrna M. Velasco – February 16, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

It will be a tightrope walk still for the power industry when it comes to cornering regulatory approvals on pending petitions and applications with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) since the agency’s backlogs already swelled to 1,000 cases and higher, as noted by ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera.

“We are not done with inventory of cases yet, but our working number is 1,000 and higher (of case backlogs)….these are all kinds of cases and decisions that we need to act on,” she told reporters.

Devanadera qualified that backlogs would include those filings that had already been deliberated at the Commission level, but decision writing is still ongoing.

Others would also cover those cases pending at various judicial bodies, including the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) policy that is subject to a temporary restraining order (TRO) at the Supreme Court.

“What I am saying as backlogs would include those for writing of the resolution… processes have already been done at the Commission, but the decision has yet to be written,” Devanadera explained.

She specified though that the Commission will not act on the concerns relating to the restrained RCOA rules, including petitions on the expired licenses of retail electricity suppliers (RES), unless there is already a verdict or ruling from the high court.

“There are cases that we cannot really touch, including those with TROs from the Supreme Court,” she stressed. At the temporary return of its four Commissioners for 60 days, the ERC first vowed to work on initial 61 cases but efforts will be ramped up depending on the pace of technical evaluation and hearings being carried out on specific cases.

“We have our Commission meetings every week. For the 61 cases, that’s already done, so we can move on to other new cases,” Devanadera said.

On pending applications for renewals of certificates of compliance (COCs) of power generating facilities, Devanadera noted that these are priority, but the Commission will also ascertain which facilities will still need technical inspection and validation of operational efficiency.

“Of course, we know and they know and the applicants know that it’s not just compliance to the documentary requirements, but there is also inspection coming from ERC – it cannot just be submission of documents, we still need to undertake inspection of their facilities,” the ERC chair stressed.