Palace expected to release ERC appointments soon

By Myrna M. Velasco – August 2, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

The entire electric power industry is on high anticipation of the release of appointments by Malacanang for those taking the posts vacated by two retired officials of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Agnes T. Devanadera

            Agnes T. Devanadera

As of this week, talks in the industry had been rife that the prospective new ERC Commissioners will be Davao-based lawyer Alexis Lumbatan and renewable energy advocate Catherine P. Maceda. The guessing-game, nevertheless, won’t end until the signed papers are formally transmitted to the ERC.

The incoming Commissioners will be the replacements of Alfredo J. Non and Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc who retired July 10 this year.

In an interview with reporters, ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera indicated that no new appointments had been formally transmitted to her office yet; but she similarly shared the industry’s sentiment that the new Commissioners will hopefully be named soon so the regulatory body can finally move forward on its order of business with certain degree of normalcy.

It is worth noting that the Commissioners of the ERC had been suspended again last June by the Office of the Ombudsman relating to previous decision on the commingling of bill deposits by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) on its book of accounts.

With Non and Yap-Taruc’s recent end of tenure, only two of the sitting Commissioners are directly impacted by the suspension when it comes to their work at the regulatory body. Although for Non and Yap-Taruc, the legal suit is a matter that they will need to sort out also relative to their retirement benefits and other related concerns.

For the forthcoming Commissioners, Devanadera sounded off her wish that their learning curve would hopefully be accelerated – and if possible this will already culminate in their first day at the ERC office.

“You know, it seems our deadline must start the time that they get appointed. That we just have to sit down and act as a Commission already – they cannot start from a learning curve that shall be taking off from an elementary phase,” she stressed.

And once the Commission musters a quorum and reverts to its normal grind, Devanadera noted that priority actions shall be set on old cases – primarily those that were already gathering dusts at the ERC dockets – including filings as way back as 2014-2015.

The others, according to the ERC chief, shall be immediate deliberations and action on a number of expiring certificates of compliance (COCs) of power facilities.