Junk deals with Meralco affiliates, ERC urged
A progressive solon urged on Friday the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to junk its deals with companies affiliated with the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) after the Ombudsman suspended four commissioners of the regulatory body.
“I think that with the Ombudsman decision and the facts established during the hearings conducted by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, it would be prudent for the ERC to junk these deals and start a new and true competitive selection process (CSP),” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement.
“These deals would cost electric consumers P12.44 billion annually for 20-21 years and with the newly signed tax reform package this would definitely increase further,” he added.
Last Thursday, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of ERC Commissioners Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Alfredo Non, Josefina Patricia Magpala-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana after they allegedly allowed electric utilities such as Meralco to forgo the bidding of their power supply requirements.
The Davao-based lawmaker also pointed out that during their investigation at the House, the following facts were established and pointed to the “highly anomalous accommodation of and undue preference given to Meralco” by the ERC:
1. It changed and extended the deadline of the competitive selection process (CSP) from November 9, 2015 to April 30, 2016, thus allowing Meralco to file its seven (7) power supply agreements with its own affiliated generation companies beyond the original cut-off date. The 7 PSAs is equivalent to 3,551 MW, more than half of the current power requirement of Meralco, the country’s biggest private power distributor;
2. Since the “new deadline” of April 30, 2016 falls on a Saturday, ERC set the cut-off date of filing on “closing hours of April 29, 2016” at 5:00 PM, as posted on its website. However, based on the records and testimonies during the hearing, ERC still accepted Meralco’s filing beyond the 5:00 PM deadline of April 29, 2016.
3. Yet, despite these glaring Meralco violations, ERC still set for hearings the seven (7) PSA applications filed out of time, with one already given a provisional approval. Also set for hearings are four (4) of the seven (7) PSAs applications that were actually received by ERC on May 1,2016, although the same were stamped received April 29, 2016 with no time stamped.
“As can be seen, the erring ERC commissioners bent over backwards several times just to accommodate Meralco and they should be made accountable for this and ensure that this is not repeated,” Zarate said.
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