Citizen’s group happy with ERC

SPY BITS - The Philippine Star

A citizen-led pro-consumer group calling itself CitizenWatch lauded the Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to deny the motion for reconsideration filed by generation companies who disputed the ERC’s order voiding the Luzon wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) for November and December last year, which it described as “excessive, exorbitant and unreasonable.”

The regulatory body said it issued the order to safeguard public interest by restoring competitive prices in the market, adding that had it not interceded, the consequences would have been onerous on the consumers who ultimately carry the burden of irrationally skyrocketing electricity rates.

According to CitizenWatch, the order was significant because aside from the fact that it indicated overpricing in the WESM, it also served as a test case in light of the looming energy crisis next year. ERC had also recently extended the imposed price cap on WESM trading in a bid to stabilize electricity prices.  Saying that “the tight supply and demand situation of power in the country makes it prone to spikes in electricity prices,” the pro-consumer group reiterated its support for ERC’s move as it would redound to the benefit of the consuming public. 

The President has admitted that the looming power crisis is a challenge that the national government can’t handle by itself, saying that current energy projections show Luzon facing a minimum shortage of 300 megawatts to a maximum of 1,000 megawatts next year.  Some private companies have taken steps to reduce energy consumption, like the SM group that installed over 5,700 solar panels on the rooftop of its North EDSA mall in Quezon City which can generate up to 1.5 MW – enough to power the building’s 16,000 lighting fixtures, 59 escalators and 20 elevators.

In fact, more companies are responding to the call of government to help mitigate the expected tight supply problem during summer next year by running their respective generators instead of getting power from the grid during specified periods.

Meralco, the country’s biggest power distribution utility, is also embarking on a massive information campaign that would help consumers identify which appliances consume the most electricity through orange-colored power consumption tags that would supplement the yellow labels of the Department of Energy. The orange labels indicate how much electricity a certain appliance or gadget consumes – which would help costumers manage their energy consumption as they would know how much each appliance contributes to their electric bills. 

Disaster-proof industry

Intellectual Property Office director general Ric Blancaflor sent us a recent study on the economic contribution of the “creative industries” to the country’s gross domestic product – a healthy 7.34 percent or equivalent to P661 billion. Using 2010 as a reference year, an update by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization also showed that over 14 percent of the country’s labor force comes from the creative industry (copyright-based) sector, and its potential to contribute even more to the economy could be further enhanced when fully supported by legislation and budgetary allocations, Blancaflor noted the industry is immune from national disasters and thrives even with meager government support.

More than a decade ago, the contribution of copyright-based industries (CBIs) to the GDP was a modest 4.82 percent, but this has grown over the years as policy and institutional reforms that protected copyright on literature, music, theater, film, media, photography, visual arts and other similar creative sectors were set in place.  A 2006 baseline study revealed that CBIs significantly contributed to the economy and registered a strong potential for employment generation – thereby providing a good vehicle in attaining development objectives.

Mall trend

With the Christmas holidays now just around the corner, the pace in malls has become more frenetic than ever with throngs of people doing their last minute shopping, at times making it impossible to enjoy dinner or even a drink of coffee. Many have told us that just the thought of going through a crowded mall is enough to discourage them from going out at all.

The recently expanded Commercenter in Alabang however is offering a respite with its one-stop-shop lifestyle concept that allows people to spend quality time with the “non-complex” layout that projects a relaxing, less crowded ambience amid lush and serene surroundings. Frequent visitors to the new mall tell us the establishments have been carefully chosen to provide not only a variety of dining or entertainment options but also offer wellness and development centers from yoga to dental and eye specialty clinics, hobby shops and specialty boutiques that cater to all groups or shoppers – families, friends, kids, couples. 

Among the interesting places in Commercenter is the Bridgestone one-stop tire shop and automotive services center that meet the needs of luxury sedan, SUV and sports car owners throughout the south, with the establishment meant to cater to owners in need of topnotch car repair and maintenance – from changing and aligning run-flat tires to servicing bulletproof cars. Bike enthusiasts also rave about the Ducati center which, like Bridgestone, is also a one-stop shop for everything that has to do with the motorcycle brand from a display of the latest models to upgrades and tune-ups.

Spy tidbit

Our congratulations to Philippine Star chairman Ray Espinosa who was unanimously elected to the Board of Governors of the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC), the country’s oldest and most prestigious press club.  The MOPC elections for the 2015 board held at the Manila Golf and Country Club the other day also coincided with the club’s Christmas party. Also elected to the board were The New Standard publisher Rollie Estabillo, Radio Mindanao Network chairman Eric Canoy, Masbate Community Broadcasting president Maloli Espinosa-Supnet, Manila Bulletin columnist Hector Villanueva, Asia World’s Nelia Gonzalez, SMC’s Elpi Cuna, and yours truly.

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Email: spybits08@yahoo.com.

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