Meralco bats for immediate restoration of ERC functions

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

As power plant “on commissioning phases” may get delayed and affect country’s power supply situation, electric utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) opined that it is highly critical for the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) normal function to be restored.

“We are hopeful that ERC will return to a situation where it can continue to discharge its functions in the interest not only for all the players of the entire supply chain – generation, transmission and distribution, but customers particularly,” Meralco President Oscar S. Reyes has indicated to media in a lunch briefing on Monday.

Oscar S. Reyes

                  Oscar S. Reyes

He emphasized that “the power industry is a very heavily regulated industry and it’s operations and future and its service to customers are largely affected by the ability of its regulator ERC to function effectively.”

On the manner of filling up the ERC leadership void, Reyes noted that the industry is “neutral” as to how Malacañang intends to resolve the impasse that arose from the suspension of the four sitting Commissioners of the agency.

Nevertheless, Reyes qualified that “what is important is that (the ERC) is adequately man-staffed with people who can properly play their roles as regulator, move towards the interest of both industry players and consumers.”

The vacuum at ERC leadership has already been lingering for three weeks, and the longer that situation sticks around, it turns more problematic for the industry.

For one, it was noted that several power plants that are now undergoing commissioning may not be able to get on-line as targeted because they cannot secure certificate of compliance (CoC) without a fully functioning Commission.

A CoC is a crucial documentary requirement that the ERC has to issue before any power plant can move forward to commercial operation and viably supply electricity to the power grid.

Relative to that function of the Commission, Reyes said “we are particularly concerned that absent that ability (of the ERC), it may put at risk the capability of the industry to assure security of supply moving forward, which is very critical at this point because the country is well-positioned in terms of its growth trajectory.”

He further asserted that “the country has become highly attractive to not only local but foreign investors and we do not want to lose that sort of momentum and confidence.”

Reyes reiterated that “there are many critical pending issues, like the CoCs of power plants that relate to operations and investments, the building of new power plants, the supply of different distribution utilities and electric cooperatives, so I think it is quite critical that ERC be restored to its regular functioning position.”