THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has postponed until after Lent the hearing on the application by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) for a revenue increase.

Sundy Lorence Lachica, one of the lawyers of NGCP, said the ERC postponed the hearing because the state-owned power company still needed to present about 28 witnesses, including foreign consultants, to justify its application.

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The ERC’s decision on NGCP’s request will determine power distribution and transmission charges in the next five years.

Hearings for the Visayas grid started on Wednesday.

However, the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (NASECORE), represented by lawyer Edison John Arriola, said it is determined to quash

NGCP’s application.

They said they will ask the ERC not to grant NGCP’s request since its profit is determined by Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

Arriola said with proceedings set for March or after Lent, there is a possibility that the hearing for the Visayas grid may be held in Manila.

Arriola said when hearings resume, they will ask NGCP to furnish them a copy of its concession agreement with the National Transmission Corp. (Transco). He said NGCP kept using the agreement during their presentation of evidence.

Five years ago, Transco submitted a similar proposal with ERC and this was granted in the absence of an intervention by consumer groups.

At the Cebu Provincial Board (PB), members want an accounting of the state of power in the province.

Prospect

The board, through a resolution sponsored by PB Member Victor Maambong, invited Department of Energy (DOE) 7 Director Antonio Labios to its regular session on Monday.

Maambong noted the dim prospects of the power situation in Cebu, as reported in the media.

He noted that “the advent of El Niño earlier than expected will cause an uptick of power consumption during peak hours.”

He, however, noted that the situation will normalize before the end of the month.

On Valentine’s Day, the Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) will conduct the synchronization of its first unit for test and commissioning, which can provide over 82 megawatts (mw).

By Feb. 16, the first unit of the Mahanagdong Power Plant will complete its preventive maintenance shutdown and will resume producing 60 mw. The other 60 mw was already supplied by the second unit last Feb. 9.

The PB, in inviting Labios, also wants to ask about fears that the power outages will give Cebu a negative image among foreign investors.

Labios earlier announced that Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes ordered that no plant can undertake unscheduled preventive maintenance shutdown from March until May. He said this may even extend until July.

The PB also wants to know about the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), a mechanism expected to bring down power prices and stabilize supply.

In the WESM setup, power supply is sold like stocks in the stock market.