Con­gress seeks ‘ERC ac­tion’ on Mer­alco power sup­ply agree­ments

Manila Bulletin - - Business News - By MYRNA M. VE­LASCO

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.

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