Immediate implementation sought for power retail competition and open access

By Myrna M. Velasco – November 3, 2016, 10:01 PM

from Manila Bulletin

Taking a different stance from the industry regulator, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi indicated that he wants retail competition and open access (RCOA) promptly implemented so consumers in the qualified threshold can already exercise ‘power of choice’ in contracting for their electricity needs.

In an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the shares listing of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, the energy chief noted that so far he does not see the logic of delaying the enforcement of the restructured power industry’s competitive regime.

“On RCOA, the objective is to have it implemented as soon as possible, it’s not that I’m objecting (to an extension). What I just don’t like there is for it to be further delayed,” Cusi stressed.

He added “if things can be done now, why do we still have to wait any longer? That’s why I am pushing for an immediate implementation, so ‘freedom of choice’ can be enjoyed by the public.”

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is more open to RCOA deadline extension up to February, 2017, but this is clearly a matter that must be settled with the Department of Energy (DOE) so the qualified contestable end-users can be properly guided.

Some segments of contestable customers or those end-users that can already contract for their own electricity supply had been up in arms against the wish of the DOE to rush the mandatory execution of RCOA, noting that this could trap them into ‘rushed negotiations’ for nothing other than high-priced power supply contracts.

The qualified customers within the prescribed mandatory contestability at initial threshold of 1.0 megawatt by December, 2016 have been batting for extension so they could also be given leeway to ‘bargain hunt’ on their electricity supply contracting.

On fears of rushed negotiations, Cusi said “even if that will be deferred to a later period, the concerns will be the same. We just have to be careful with what we are doing…of course, caution has to be exercised whether it is a long term negotiations or not.”

In the RCOA policy’s pick of winners and losers, the non-extension on supply contracting, for some, is deemed advantageous to the retail electricity suppliers (RES) and generation companies (GenCos), but bad news for contestable customers who will be ironically arm-twisted in a regime wherein they should have already been exercising ‘freedom of choice’ on their procurement of electricity supply and service.

According to ERC Chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar, the regulatory body’s preliminary leaning will be to enforce parallel deadline for both the mandatory competitive regimes set for the 1.0MW and 750-kilowatt (kW) thresholds – and that shall be by June, 2017.