Find out how ERC bended rules to favor erring power suppliers of MVP’s Meralco
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) twisted its own rules by allowing Manila Electric Company (Meralco), a company managed by Bilyonaryo Manny V. Pangilinan, to file past the designated deadline time for its seven power suppliers to comply with the government’s competitive selection process (CSP).
During the Oct. 11 of a House inquiry on ERC issues, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said an ERC employee that all of the seven Meralco PSAs failed to beat the deadline — set on or before 5 p.m. of April 29, 2016 — for filing of power supply agreements (PSA) that did not undergo a CSP, he m
Sheryl Calinog, secretary of ERC’s general records division, told lawmakers under oath that four of the PSAs were actually filed on May 2, 2016 – or three days after deadline. But lawyer Jojo Tomas, then the ERC’s director for legal, instructed Calinog to put April 29, 2016, as filing date of the four PSAs.
Calinog added that the three other Meralco PSAs were filed between 5:30 and 7:25 p.m. – or past the 5 p.m. close of office hours — of April 29, 2016.
Zarate said that, based on Calinog’s statements, the late filings violated ERC’s very own advisory, released on April 27, 2016, wherein the ERC reminded all distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) to file their PSAs “before the close of the business hours (i.e. 5:00 PM) on 29 April 2016”, if they wanted their PSAs to avoid a CSP.
The advisory stressed that “afterwards, no PSA filed with the ERC will be docketed unless it has undergone CSP.” In other words, “the seven PSAs should be subject to a CSP”, Zarate stressed.
The CSP is at the heart of the government’s reforms to protect consumers from collusion among players and to cut down power rates. CSP requires energy companies and distribution utilities like Meralco to receive at least two qualified bids for supply of electricity from generation companies not affiliated with any distribution utility.
The seven PSAs, that would cost Meralco customers trillions of pesos over 20 to 21 years, have been contracted to provide 3,551 megawatts of electricity. Six of the PSAs went to generation companies that were either subsidiaries or affiliates of Meralco.
At the continuation of the House inquiry, ERC Commissioner Josefina Patricia Asirit explained that ERC employees “follow flexi time.” Her reply drew adverse reactions from lawmakers at the hearing.