By Lenie Lectura - February 23, 2017
The Department of Energy on Thursday said it is duty-bound to implement the retail competition and open access (RCOA), a key provision of Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (Epira), despite an order from the Supreme Court (SC) not to enforce it.
“The provisions in the Epira mandates the DOE to ensure the security, reliability and availability of transparent and reasonably priced electricity in the country,” said Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, adding that consumers should have the freedom of choice as to which power provider they prefer to deal with. The High Court announced on Tuesday that it issued a temporary restraining order against the implementation of RCOA.
Under the said policy, which will be enforced in phases, consumers are allowed to choose their supplier of electricity to encourage competition in the generation and supply sector.
The implementation of mandatory migration for contestable customers (CCs) with average peak demand of 1 megawatt and above is on February 26. Mandatory contestability for CCs with 750 kilowatt to 999-kW average peak demand will be effective on June 26.
The rules also state that the lowering of the threshold to cover an end-user with an average monthly peak demand of at least 500 kW is set on June 26, 2018, subject to the review of the performance of the retail market by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
“One of the provisions of the law is the implementation of the RCOA, which allows consumers to directly contract power supply from licensed retail electricity suppliers [RES],” Cusi clarified.
“The spirit of the RCOA is giving the consumers the freedom of choice which would result in higher productivity for them. And the power of choice can only be maximized when there is a level playing field for all suppliers,” Cusi assured. “It is hoped that whatever the decision by the Supreme Court, it will redound to the ultimate benefit of the consumers, which is really the intent and the spirit of RCOA.” Cusi said.
According to the DOE, 21 percent, or 221 CCs, have yet to sign up.
Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said the DOE, ERC and the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) will make public on Friday their unified position on the matter.
“We will comply with the Supreme Court mandate. We will talk with ERC and PEMC for a unified policy for players to be guided,” Fuentebella said.
This unified policy is meant to address the concerns of the industry players that are affected by the SC decision. The DOE, Fuentebella added, is determined to explore “all legal remedies”.