DOJ office probing power rate hike given Jan. deadline | Inquirer News

DOJ office probing power rate hike given Jan. deadline

/ 03:41 PM December 16, 2013

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Office for Competition has until January to come up with a recommendation on its investigation regarding the cause of the sharp increase in power rate this month, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said Monday.

“I already directed the Office for Competition to thoroughly investigate the matter and come up with a report and recommendation by January next year,” De Lima told reporters.


The Office for Competition under the DOJ can receive any form of complaint as a basis for inquiry or further study on possible violations of laws, prohibiting cartelization, monopolies or combinations in restraint of trade.


De Lima said she already ordered the investigation even before receiving the letter-complaint filed by several cause oriented and partylist groups.

“We would like to invite the DOE (Department of Energy) to state their take on this matter. Do they see collusion here because collusion is a very serious allegation and this has a strong impact to the public,” De Lima said.

Earlier, Akbayan Representatives Walden Bello and Barry Gutierrez, economist Maitet Diokno of the Center for Power Issues and Initiatives (CPII), Wilson Fortaleza of Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and NAGKAISA, and Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) President Ricardo Reyes urged the DOJ to look for possible violations and collusion of power firms.

The group particularly pointed to possible collusion between Meralco, First Gas Power Corporation, San Miguel Corporation, Kepco Philippines, Aboitiz Power, Team Energy Corporation, AES Philippines and DMCI Holdings, Incorporated following the simultaneous and unscheduled shutdown of their plants resulting in more load deficits in the Luzon grid forcing Meralco to buy a more expensive power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market or WESM.

“The expected and scheduled maintenance of Malampaya notwithstanding—an event Meralco was aware of more than six months before its occurrence—and Meralco’s claim that such was not anticipated, and the unscheduled shutdown of several power plants that resulted [in] Meralco’s recourse to expensive electricity from the WESM, are information that point to a contrived scenario of extreme short-term shortage of electricity for the purpose of raising the price of electricity beyond what it would cost to generate it,” they said.

The groups went to the DOJ after the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approved the amount of P4.15/kWh increase sought by Meralco.


Related stories

ERC: Meralco can hike rates sans gov’t prior OK

Meralco price hike reasonable, says Palace

Meralco hikes rates by up to P3 per kWh

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