How much did Meralco actually pay Therma Mobile? ERC should know
The March 3 order of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) voided the “prices in WESM [Wholesale Electricity Spot Market] during the November and December 2013 supply months [as these] could not qualify as reasonable, rational and competitive.”
On page 6 of the same order, the ERC said: “On December 9, 2013, Meralco presented… details of its November 2013 generation costs…. On December 9, 2013, the Commission issued a letter giving clearance for Meralco to stagger collection of its generation costs.” Unreasonable, irrational and non-competitive—so why was the Meralco petition approved on the same day it was presented, without notice and hearing, in effect excluding the “captive” customers. Only at the ERC!
The dispositive portion of the order says “PEMC [Philippine Electricity Market Corp.] is further directed to conduct an investigation on the possible breach of [the] Must-Offer Rule…” This rule was highlighted in the vigorous finger-pointing between Meralco, on the one hand, and the Department of Energy and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. as they shirked responsibility for the fiasco.
But on page 22 of the order, the ERC proclaims ex cathedra: “The Commission has not seen any other rule in the market as violated as the Must-Offer Rule of WESM. The non-observance is so rampant that the entire WESM governance structure has perhaps already grown accustomed to encountering it on a regular basis.” If it is so rampant, what more should PEMC look for? Jail everyone, based on what the ERC already knows of the market.
Finally, the ERC decrees “the imposition of regulated prices in lieu of WESM.” But this will be based on factors and variables that have been made too complex and complicated under the ERC’s PBR (performance-based rate making) gobbledygook, and at the end of all our exertions, we may have the same old, overpriced dog but with a new, shiny collar; and the same old fleas, too.
As a Meralco customer, I am not covered by that order. Still, I hope the ERC asks Meralco these questions: Who were its generation companies? How much were they paid? Who were under bilateral contracts? Who were paid the WESM clearing price? Specifically, did Meralco pay Therma Mobile the WESM clearing price of P62/kWh or their contract price of P10/kWh? All these documents are at the disposal of the ERC and verification should be easy. Unless the ERC has also grown accustomed to swallowing—hook, line and sinker—all that Meralco tells them, as in that Dec. 9 presentation.
For more on this, go to erc.gov.ph and check ERC case 2014-021MC.
—BUTCH L. JUNIA,
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