AMONG the well-thought-out focus areas that President Bong Bong Marcos Jr. mentioned in his first
State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, July 25, was the energy sector. I cannot agree more when he said that, "Another fundamental requirement for growth and increased employment will be the availability of cheap, reliable energy." He drove this point even deeper when he concluded his SONA by directly addressing the nation's lawmakers, recommending legislation to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or Epira.
Truth be told, Epira in its current form has fallen short of its objectives to lower the cost of electricity, combat against market collusion, and ensure sufficient power supply. The same can be said about the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in its failures to put consumer welfare and protection above selfish corporate profits.
It's about time, and I completely agree, that we bring the Epira and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) back to the drawing board and plug tight all its loopholes.
The ultimate benefit to the public of amending Epira and restructuring the ERC is that it will improve the implementation of the law to foster more power generation capacity, prevent market collusion between Generation Companies (GenCo's) and Distribution Utilities (DU's), and most of all, manifest President Marcos Jr.'s objectives to deliver cheap and reliable energy.
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This legislative direction, straight from President BBM, is undoubtedly a very strong signal to GenCos and DUs that this administration will give no room to greedy schemes and manipulation of prices of electricity in the energy market.
Apparently, it may have already reached the attention of the President that some GenCos and DU are blackmailing the ERC with threats of rotational brownouts if the commission will not capitulate to their whims of relieving them of their contract obligations to the fixed-price clause of the Power Supply Agreement (PSA).
In fact, the threat of rotational brownout due to insufficient power supply of a GenCo is a sham, because this GenCo was able to source replacement power from the market when Malampaya stopped their natural gas supply to them more than a month ago.
PBBM's SONA speech, in which he devoted considerable time outlining his administration's programs on addressing energy problems should also serve as a clear and unambiguous directive to the ERC to stay true to its mandate, do its job to protect consumers, and uphold the terms of the PSA contract.
By compelling GenCo's to fulfill their commitments contained in their contract is a clear demonstration that there is genuine competition and sanctity of contracts in the energy industry. The ERC can show everyone that they will quash all forms of unfair market collusion in the industry, and that the protection of consumers welfare — not the preservation of corporate profit, is the commission's paramount objective.