Phinma En­ergy still con­fi­dent of RES busi­ness prospects de­spite TRO

Business World - - CORPORATE NEWS - By Victor V. Saulon Sub-Ed­i­tor

PHINMA EN­ERGY Corp. re­mains op­ti­mistic on the prospects of its re­tail elec­tric­ity sup­ply busi­ness, de­spite a Supreme Court (SC) or­der that put on hold reg­u­la­tions that were sup­posed to force big power users to switch from be­ing cap­tive cus­tomers of distribution util­i­ties.

“De­spite the ac­tiv­i­ties that hap­pened be­fore the switch­ing dead­line, we were able to switch 100-megawatts (MW) worth of cus­tomers by ... the Fe­bru­ary dead­line,” said Danielle R. del Rosario, Phinma En­ergy as­sis­tant vice-pres­i­dent and head of sales and mar­ket­ing, in a re­cent in­ter­view.

Ms. Del Rosario was re­fer­ring to the Feb. 26 dead­line set by the En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (ERC) that re­quired con­sumers with an av­er­age monthly us­age of at least 1 MW to source power from a li­censed re­tail elec­tric­ity sup­plier (RES).

The SC has since is­sued a tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der (TRO) that stopped the low­er­ing of the thresh­old to cover those with an av­er­age peak de­mand of 750 kilo­watts to 999 kilo­watts ( kW). The manda­tory switch would have taken ef­fect on June 26.

The low­er­ing of the thresh­old to cover con­sumers with an av­er­age monthly peak de­mand of 500 kW is sup­posed be im­ple­mented on June 26, 2018, but sub­ject to the re­view of the per­for­mance of the re­tail mar­ket by the ERC.

“De­spite the ef­forts to de­lay the re­tail com­pe­ti­tion ex­pan­sion, we were still able to switch a hun­dred (MW), and we’re still talk­ing to the same cus­tomers who com­mit­ted to us by year end,” Ms. Del Rosario said.

Ear­lier this year, she said Phinma En­ergy had been able to cor­ner 171 MW worth of new con­tracts. She said the com­pany was look­ing at dou­bling that fig­ure.

The TRO, how­ever, left cus­tomers con­fused as to whether switch­ing to a RES from a distribution util­ity can be vol­un­tary.

“Some of them just switched at a later date, some of are still un­der ne­go­ti­a­tions,” Ms. Del Rosario said.

“So we re­main con­fi­dent that this is a seg­ment of the busi­ness that we can con­tinue to ex­pand. It’s very com­pet­i­tive though so it’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult given the prices,” she added.

In its an­nual re­port, Phinma En­ergy said it “is in­vig­o­rated with re­solve to cap­ture a sig­nif­i­cant share of the re­tail elec­tric­ity mar­ket through cus­tom­iz­a­ble power so­lu­tions, serv­ing a greater num­ber of en­ergy en­dusers with a cus­tomer- cen­tric ap­proach.”

Ms. Del Rosario said based on the ERC’s sta­tis­ti­cal re­port as of end-Jan­uary 2017, it has be­come a strong player in the re­tail elec­tric­ity sup­ply busi­ness.

“Phinma En­ergy is the sec­ond­largest sin­gle RES. If you don’t con­sol­i­date the others, Phinma En­ergy is al­ready the sec­ond­largest at 12% of the those who have switched al­ready,” she said.

Sought to clar­ify the con­fu­sion on whether switch­ing can be vol­un­tary, Phillip C. Ad­viento, Philip­pine Elec­tric­ity Mar­ket Corp. (PEMC) train­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager, said in a text mes­sage: “The switch­ing of 750 kW to 999 kW CCs (con­testable cus­tomers) is put on hold in view of the TRO is­sued by the SC.”

“The TRO en­joined the im­ple­men­ta­tion of DoE Cir­cu­lar 201506-0010 and ERC Res­o­lu­tion No. 10, se­ries of 2016 that pro­vided for the re­duc­tion of con­testa­bil­ity thresh­old to 750 kW,” he added.

“The vol­un­tary switch­ing of 1 MW is in ef­fect based on ERC Res­o­lu­tion No. 11, se­ries of 2013, which was not cov­ered by the TRO,” Mr. Ad­viento said.

He ear­lier said that PEMC had been di­rected by the ERC to be come up with the cen­tral reg­is­tra­tion and set­tle­ment sys­tem re­quired by the rules gov­ern­ing re­tail com­pe­ti­tion and open ac­cess.

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