ERC assures impartiality on PECO rate hike petition

- Donnabelle L. Gatdula () - December 29, 2005 - 12:00am
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has made the assurance that it remains impartial on the rate petition recently filed by the Panay Electric Co. Inc. (PECO).

ERC chairman Rodolfo Albano Jr. said the commission stands to its mandate to balance the interests of both the electricity consumers and electricity providers.

Albano was disputing the accusation of the Freedom from Debt Coalition-Iloilo Chapter (FDC-Iloilo) that "the ERC can easily be pressured by mere pronouncements of power blackouts."

The ERC chief also dismissed claims the commission "clumsily granted a provisional increase without even bothering to check the veracity and plausibility of the statements of PECO."

The group went further to accuse the ERC of hastily drafting the order for the provisional rate change of PECO to accommodate the Dec. 15 set by Panay Power Corp. (PPC), PECO’s power supplier.

The allegations stemmed from the recent ERC order granting PECO a provisional authority to increase its rates.

"FDC-Iloilo should stop attacking the ERC with insulting remarks and issuing baseless statements that do not even reflect the truth on the current power situation in Iloilo. Emotional assessment of the recently issued ERC order on the rate petition of PECO that has no objective and factual basis will only worsen the currently manageable situation and will only cause restiveness among the people of Iloilo," the ERC official said.

Albano also said "the ERC is a proactive regulatory body that keeps a close watch on developments in the electric power industry."

"It monitors the activities of market players to ensure the uninterrupted supply of quality electricity at a just and reasonable cost. In its exercise of its regulatory powers, however, the ERC inhibits itself from interfering with the corporate affairs of power providers, such as PECO," he added.

"Let it be known to FDC-Iloilo that up to such time when the ERC came out with its May 19, 2004 decision on PECO’s unbundled rates, no renegotiated power purchase agreement (PPA) was submitted to the ERC for approval. Thus, its generation rate was pegged to that of the National Power Corp.," Albano explained.

PECO and PPC only submitted their renegotiated PPA for the ERC’s review and approval on Oct. 14, 2005, more than a year from the unbundling decision of the ERC.

"PECO and PPC should have realized after the unbundling decision that there is an urgent need for them to renegotiate in order to assure a continuous supply of electricity," the ERC chairman said.

He said "despite the shortcomings of the parties involved, the ERC did not waste time in evaluating the rate case to avert a power crisis that could adversely affect the economic condition of Iloilo."

Albano also clarified that "a PA was granted by the ERC as an immediate relief to affected parties, pending a final resolution. A final resolution to the case will eventually be issued by the ERC based on facts and evidences gathered through the public hearings that are conducted as part of due process."

The ERC official said the commission has the power to issue a PA (provisinal authority) pending final resolution of a case.

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