PEMC still determined to collect fines from Aboitiz unit for WESM violation

by Madelaine B. Miraflor, 22 April 2015
from Manila Bulletin

The Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), is exploring legal options for it to be able to collect the P234.9-million fine it imposed against Aboitiz Group’s Therma Mobile Inc. (TMO) for alleged WESM violation despite the court decision to stop the said collection.

PEMC Board earlier imposed a penalty against TMO after the latter allegedly breached the WESM Rule on the Must Offer during the period November and December 2013.

However, TMO argued that it did not withhold any capacity, as it was physically impossible for it to transmit more than 100 megawatts to Manila Electric Co.

“Although TMO’s rated capacity is 234 MW (net), it could only safely, reliably and consistently deliver 100MW during the period under investigation because of the thermal limitations of its transmission lines and the technical and mechanical constraints of its generating units,” TMO said in its petition to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig.

RTC has earlier prevented PEMC to collect the amount from TMO, specifying that the latter’s petition is “meritorious” and that it has a basis for its claim.

In a statement, PEMC said on Tuesday that it accepts the decision of the RTC but it remained determined to collect the fine from TMO.

“With due respect to the court, PEMC shall exhaust all legal remedies available to it insofar as the directive to undergo the arbitration process is concerned in order to protect the integrity of the WESM enforcement and compliance process,” PEMC said.

With regard to the court’s injunction against transmitting PEMC’s investigation report to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), PEMC only reiterated the information it already provided to the court of the prior submission made to the ERC before the filing of the case by TMO.

“Consistent with the PEMC’s mandate in operating the WESM as a platform for transparency in electricity trading, we shall continue to uphold the integrity of the WESM by ensuring accountability of the WESM participants despite this ruling from the court.”, said PEMC president Melinda Ocampo.

In the same order, the court also made a prima facie determination of the existence of an arbitration agreement between TMO and PEMC, and ordered the parties to continue with the dispute resolution process embodied in the WESM Rules and WESM Dispute Resolution Market Manual.

A prima facie decision is determined through the face value of the documents or proofs presented before the court.

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