Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ERC must avert derailment in power sector growth

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 22, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Resolution over the recent shake up in the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is critical in the next 12 months to avert any possibility of derailment in the power sector’s development, according to officials of major power industry players.
The ERC has been in the spotlight in the past few months and as the country’s power regulator, this has been a major concern for industry players because of uncertainty, Aboitiz Power Corp. president and COO Antonio Moraza said.
“The whole industry is concerned, there’s been talk, at least in the newspapers, of its abolition… if that happens, then you know, everything is going to be delayed by two or three years,” he said.
It started when an ERC director Francisco Jose Villa Jr. committed suicide last November due to pressure to approve procurement contracts and hire consultants without going through proper bidding.
Because of the alleged corruption in the ERC, President Duterte has threatened to abolish the agency if top officials refuse to resign.
More recently, four commissioners protested appointments made by the chairman Jose Vicente Salazar while he was on official leave, which led to filing of cases over violations of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the Anti-Red Tape Law and CSC Memorandum Circular No. 6 Series of 2005.
Salazar was then placed under a 90-day preventive suspension for deceiving Malaca├▒ang in filing his travel authority and designating somebody without proper authority as OIC while he was abroad.
The situation has caused uncertainty in the ERC from performing its role as the country’s power regulator as well as the sector’s future developments, AC Energy Holdings Inc. president and CEO Eric Francia said.
“Any major uncertainty, and this is a major uncertainty, it could dampen investor appetite or sentiment, which is the last thing we need now,” he said.

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