Congress seeks ‘ERC action’ on Meralco power supply agreements
On majority vote, the joint membership of the Committees on Energy as well as Good Government and Public Accountability of Congress had given the ‘green light’ to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to already resolve the pending applications for power supply agreements (PSAs) of the Manila Electric Company.
The lawmakers, however, have carefully worded their resolution by just stipulating that they “recommend to the ERC to take action and resolve” the pending PSAs at the regulatory body.
Some lawmakers opined that they cannot just instruct the ERC to approve the power supply contracts, hence, they just prodded the Commission “to take action” on such pending cases at its disposal.
The ERC Commissioners present at the seven-hour grueling public hearing on Wednesday (October 11) had not committed any new timeframe though on when they can render a decision on the PSA applications, primarily those that had already gone through processes of public hearings and submissions of documentary requirements.
According to Commissioner Glora Victoria Yap-Taruc, there’s still a pending motion for reconsideration of the consumer-advocacy groups that had been denied in their delayed petition to become ‘intervenors’ in the PSA cases. An earlier ruling of the ERC had just considered their plea for them to become ‘oppositors’ in said PSA filings.
Of the seven PSAs of Meralco that had been filed on the extended deadline for power supply contracting to be spared from the competitive selection process (CSP), three have been almost complete on their regulatory routes leading to the ERC’s decision process. These are for the 1,200-megawatt Atimonan, 600MW Redondo Pensinsula and 700MW St. Raphael coal-fired power projects.
In engaging ERC on its decision approach on these PSAs, the lawmakers have similarly raised the recent declarations of ‘yellow alert’ conditions in the Luzon grid, which they deem technically manifesting recurring threats of tight power supply.
In September alone, Luzon grid had suffered six ‘yellow alert’ distress or the state of having not enough operating reserves. From the start of the year, there had also been three ‘red alert’ conditions or the actual descend of rolling brownouts in the country’s major power grid.
Meralco similarly sounded off observations of ‘unexpected demand rise’ in recent months due to brisk economic activities – factors signaling the need for additional power capacities.
Based on the power utility firm’s data, its consolidated energy sales had been up 3.0-percent year-on-year to 20,338 gigawatt hours (GWh), “despite the high base effect of the same period in 2016 where volume surged by 11percent to 19,717 GWh.”
It was further noted that “system peak demand for the first half was up 3.0-percent,” to 6,973MW happening June 14 this year from 6,748MW previously.