Therma asks ERC to dismiss anti-competition case

by Alena Mae S. Flores – August 21, 2016 at 11:10 pm

from Manila Standard Today

Therma Mobile Inc., a unit of Aboitiz Power Corp., asked the Energy Regulatory Commission to dismiss an anti-competition complaint, saying the regulator has no jurisdiction over the case.

Therma Mobile said it was adopting a similar motion filed by power distributor Manila Electric Co. with ERC.  Meralco earlier moved to dismiss the anti-competition complaint “on the basis of lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

“A judgment issued by a quasi-judicial body without jurisdiction is void…TMO respectfully adopts the Meralco motion questioning the commission’s subject matter jurisdiction,” it said.

Therma Mobile cited the position of Meralco that it was the Philippine Competition Commission which had jurisdiction over cases involving anti-competitive activities.

Meralco, in a separate urgent motion, said ERC’s jurisdiction over anti-competition cases was transferred to PCC.

“Consequently, in keeping with the intent of the PCA [Philippine Competition Act] to have all competition related issues enforced and regulated by the PCA, this honorable commission must, with due respect, dismiss the complaint,” Meralco said.

Meralco also moved for the suspension of all proceedings, including the pre-trial until the jurisdiction issue was resolved.

Meralco said in a previous filing with the commission it had no reason or intent to restrict competition in the market and increase prices.

Meralco pointed to the withholding of the capacity of other power generators that caused the spike of power rates at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market in November to December 2013 supply months.

The power distributor said the company’s bidding procedure as contained in its power supply agreement with Therma Mobile “was not for the purpose of competing and did not result in restricting competition in any market for electricity.”

“Neither did Meralco’s nomination and bidding procedure constitute an abuse of market power or an attempted monopolization of any market for electricity,” it said.

Meralco said it contracted capacity from Therma Mobile for the purpose of servicing the requirements of its customers and its nomination and bidding procedure did not unduly limit the participation of a generation unit.

“Meralco’s nomination and bidding procedure was not intended to cause significant increase in market prices. The increase in market prices is due to the violations of the WESM rules by other plants,” it said.