Solon asks ERC: What are deadlines for?
What are deadlines for?
Lawmakers have questioned the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) extension of “business hours” for electricity distributors to procure their power supply past the deadline.
During last Wednesday’s hearing by the House of Representatives, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the applications for four power supply agreements (PSAs) were even received by the ERC docket on May 2, 2016 (a Monday), when the deadline was April 29, 2016 (a Friday).
The applications involved the Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco) PSAs with Mariveles Power Generation Corp., Global Luzon Energy Development Corp., Panay Energy Development Corp., and Central Luzon Premiere Power Corp.
General records division secretary Cheryl Calinog explained that the four PSAs were being assessed at the time by the technical working group, and the documents did not reach the docket that day, so these were received only on the following Monday morning, May 2.
She said their now-resigned director Jojo Tomas instructed them to receive these on the date of April 29, omitting the time.
Meralco’s PSAs that were filed within the day—involving Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc., Atimonan One Energy and
St. Raphael Power Generation Corp.—were marked received by the ERC docket from 5:30 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. on April 29.
The good government committee chair, Rep. Johnny Pimentel, questioned why these were still accommodated when the published invitation indicated a deadline of “the close of business hours, with 5 p.m. in parenthesis.”
ERC Commissioner Josefina Patricia Asirit replied: “We have ‘flexi’ (flexible) time.”
But Pimentel pointed out that all government agencies closed at 5 p.m.
“You cannot base that on your flexi time. You base the deadline on what you published. When you set the time at 5 p.m., after 5 p.m., you do not submit any more submission in the drop box,” he said.
The inquiry centered on the ERC’s postponement of the implementation of its rules requiring utilities to hold competitive bidding in procuring their power supply to drive down consumer prices.
The rules mandating the CSP ended up taking effect on April 30, 2016, instead of the original plan of Nov. 6, 2015. This allegedly allowed Meralco to enter into alleged “midnight deals” with its own power generation affiliates supposedly to the disadvantage of electricity consumers.
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