By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 25, 2017 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy (DOE) is pushing for a mandatory shift to the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA), which is being challenged in court.
This is despite earlier pronouncements of supporting a voluntary transition to the open market scheme.
A mandatory transition will actually develop the market by bringing in more competition and allowing more freedom of choice for consumers, DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said.
“Freedom of choice is the main content, but what we’re saying is if transition will not be mandatory, there won’t be new players in the retail electricity market and that might limit the choice,” he said.
The position is included in the motion for reconsideration filed with the Supreme Court.
“What we said in the MR (motion for reconsideration) is we are emphasizing on the fairness in developing the market,” Fuentebella said.
Last February, the high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the DOE and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to implement the mandatory migration of large power consumers to RCOA.
The TRO was sought by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, San Beda College Alabang Inc., Ateneo de Manila University and Riverbanks Development Corp., which said the new rules supposedly limits the accredited suppliers for big power consumers which must be given a choice whether to stay with their current distribution utility suppliers.
RCOA is mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 which aims to institutionalize competition in the supply of electricity, allowing the electricity end-users to choose their suppliers based on low price and other factors.
The mandatory migration to RCOA of end-users with at least one megawatt (MW) usage was scheduled last Feb. 26.
Previously, the DOE said it would come up with the rules for a voluntary transition to RCOA.
But the ERC commissioners met with DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi to explain the mandatory shift would actually bring more retail electricity players and eventually promote freedom of choice, Fuentebella said.
The decision, however, is still with the high court whether RCOA would be mandatory or voluntary, he said.
Meanwhile, the Joint Congressional Power Commission would issue its position on the RCOA, said Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy.
“We are now in the process of reviewing the transcript and the spirit of RCOA during its initial deliberation in the Senate and Congress,” he said. “We are still in the process but definitely we will issue a resolution and hopefully that resolution will be used and can be used either in the Supreme Court case.”