ERC’s initial report on power collusion a ‘cover-up’

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014


THE Energy Regulatory Commission's (ERC) investigation over the possible collusion among power producers amid a pending implementation of a Meralco rate hike turned is turning out to be a "cover-up," Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares said Wednesday.

Colmenares said this after receiving the initial report of ERC's investigation unit wherein it appealed for more time to validate and assess its data before they could make a recommendation before the commission.

"The ERC failed in coming up with its long delayed report and its findings are more of a cover-up. It is not unreasonable to suspect that they would eventually say that there was no collusion or price manipulation," Colmenares said in a statement.

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In a memorandum dated January 14, the investigation team simply affirmed the argument of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) that its supply situation was affected by plant outages.

Meralco, the country's biggest power distributor, is seeking a P4.15-per-kilowatt hour (kwh) increase to cover the generation charge of its November supply. The staggered increase approved by ERC was halted by a Supreme Court-issued temporary restraining order.

According to ERC, Meralco attributed the increase to the shutdown of the Malampaya gas plant, and the planned and forced outage of other generating plants, which it said jacked up the prices in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

In the preliminary findings of ERC's investigation unit, it said: "The supply situation during the period October 26, 2013 to December 25, 2013 is a factor which contributed to the historical high bids being accepted as clearing prices on several trading intervals. In turn, factors that affected the supply situation were plant outages and non-offer by plants."

Dismayed, Colmenares said it's time for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to undertake its own investigation since "there are charges of crimes in restraint of trade".

"Their (ERC) findings are non-findings and they should be removed by President (Benigno) Aquino for dereliction of duty and their role as regulator," the lawmaker said. (Sunnex)

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