Posted on March 22, 2017
A TOTAL of 744 customers have switched to sourcing their power supply from distribution utilities to retail electricity suppliers (RES) after rules on retail competition and open access (RCOA) came into effect, officials of the central registry of retail power users said.
However, the number of switching customers may well ease as the same rules were put on hold by the Supreme Court with the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO).
“Based on our records there were indeed deferrals after the TRO issuance,” Phillip C. Adviento, Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) training and communications manager, told reporters.
“If there were something LIKE 300 before, almost half deferred [and] withdrew from switching,” he added.
“They always say it’s because of the TRO and management decisions,” he said.
The legal block was sought by a number of petitioners, including colleges, which pointed out that Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) does not call for a mandatory switch for customers to buy their electricity from a distribution utility to a RES.
A circular from the Department of Energy (DoE) and several resolutions from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) required contestable customers, or those that reach a power consumption threshold of 1 megawatt (MW), to move away from being in the captive market of a utility by Dec. 26, 2016. The date was later moved to Feb. 26, 2017, but the high court issued the TRO days before the deadline.
Mr. Adviento said of 744 customers that switched, 665 use at least an average of 1 MW in the past year. Of the total, 79 customers consume an average of 750 kilowatts, the threshold set for the next batch of switchers.
He said PEMC had captured the data on the customers that became contestable, including those that have switched, because the company was directed by the ERC to come up with the central registration and settlement system required by RCOA.
Based on ERC data, the number of contestable customers as of December 2016 reached 1,550, of which 1,381 are in Luzon and 24 are in the Visayas. The regulator has issued licenses to 30 RES, while 24 are considered local RES, or the retail electricity supplier under a distribution utility.
PEMC, a non-stock, non-profit private corporation, was incorporated in 2003 upon the initiative of the DoE. It has representatives from the various sectors of the electric power industry and serves as the governance arm of the wholesale electricity spot market. -- Victor V. Saulon