Homeowners, informal settlers join call to remove ERC chair

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Thursday, February 27, 2014


GROUPS representing homeowners, informal settlers and women filed on Thursday the second administrative complaint urging President Benigno Aquino III to kick Chairperson Zenaida Ducut out of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Similar with the points raised by first complainant Akbayan party-list, the groups accused Ducut of gross negligence for leading the ERC last December in approving the P4.15 per kilowatt hour rate hike of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) without public consultation.

The complaint stated that Ducut failed to monitor and act on an "unscrupulous" bidding strategy between Meralco and power supplier Therma Mobile Inc., which allegedly offered power at P62/kWh at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) several times from November 12 to December 25, 2013 upon the distributor's instructions.

"As such, Meralco manipulated the market and practically dictated the price of electricity at that time. By passing the price to consumers as generation charges, Meralco ensured super profits from its unknowing consumers," said Manny Manato of the Santolan Riverside Neighborhood Federation (SRNF) in Pasig City, one of the 15 complainants.

Meralco attributed the spike in the generation charge to the shortage of power supply caused by the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility coinciding with forced outages of plants in Luzon.

The rate hike was stopped by the temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court (SC), which recently ended the oral argument on the issue. The TRO will expire in April.

The complaints against Ducut, who had rejected calls to resign, are being evaluated by the Investigative and Adjudicatory Division of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs. (Sunnex)

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