THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has postponed until after Lent the hearing on the application by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to increase its revenues for the Visayas Grid, a report from the Philippine News Agency 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, it said.

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

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, the PNA report said.

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

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 would ask NGCP to furnish them a copy of its concession agreement with the National Transmission Corp. (Transco), the PNA said. He said NGCP kept using the agreement during their presentation of evidence.

A report from the NGCP showed that Visayas and Mindanao had deficits in their gross power reserves of 126 megawatts (MW) and 87 MW, respectively.

In lieu of this, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes is set to meet with key power stakeholders in Visayas and Mindanao to address power generation issues in these areas, which have been experiencing rotating brownouts.

Since 2008, the power supply situation in the Visayas had been tight as no new capacities were added to its grid.

Reyes will be in Iloilo on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 in Cebu to meet stakeholders and officials in the power industry.

To boost power supply in the Visayas, Reyes disclosed that Cebu Energy Development Corp. had constructed three new 82-MW coal-fired power plants, the first of which will become online by March 2010, it was reported.

The two remaining units, which will have a combined capacity of 164 MW, will be operational before the end of this year, the report added.

Also in the pipeline is the 200-MW Kepco-Salcon power plant in Naga City, Cebu.

These power plants will boost the power supply in the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) grid, the DOE said. (George M. De La Cruz)