ERC execs suspension no ‘debilitating effect’ in power supply, services – DOE chief
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi assured on Tuesday that the suspension of four commissioners in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will not cause a “debilitating effect” on the country’s power supply and services.
This was contrary to an earlier warning of ERC chair Agnes Devanadera that the vacuum in the agency could result to massive blackouts in different parts of the country.
“As Energy Secretary, I have to manage the situation and I wish to assure all stakeholders that the suspension of the four commissioners will not cause a debilitating effect on the power supply and services in the Philippines,” Cusi said in a statement read by Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella during the hearing of the Senate committee on energy.
In December 2017, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the one-year suspension of Commissioners Alfredo J. Non, Gloria Victoria C. Yap-Taruc, Josefina M. Asirit and Geronimo D. Sta. Ana for allowing electric utilities like Manila Electric Company to forgo the bidding of their power supply requirements at the public’s expense.
While the suspension might delay the approval of power projects, which require a collegial decision of the Commission, Cusi said he would make sure that “this will not have any significant impact in the immediate, short, and medium term.”
“The execution of the power development plan covering the medium and long term up to 2040 will continue unhindered,” he pointed out.
The Department of Energy, he said, has been pushing for reserved capacities for possible contingencies to ensure “uninterrupted supply at all times for power security and reliability.”
“Thus, I’m certain that we can overcome this recent challenge to our energy sector,” Cusi added.
Despite this, Cusi has a pending request to President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint acting commissioners so that the ERC can continue its functions.
During the same hearing, however, Devanadera reiterated that some parts of the country might experience brownouts as a result of the continued vacuum in the ERC that would delay the approval of certain power projects.
According to Devanadera’s estimate, the amount of pending applications for power contracts is at P1.5 trillion. /kga
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