ERC sees improvement in disposition of cases despite four suspended commissioners

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Despite the suspension of its four commissioners, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has cited improvements in the disposition of cases and issues filed before the commission in the first 4 months of the year.

The power regulator issued four policies in the first quarter of the year that would reduce the retail rate of electricity at the distribution utility level, upgrade the standards for distribution management, and protect consumer welfare.

These include the Rules on System Loss Cap for Distribution Utilities and the Performance Incentive Scheme; Resolution Adopting the Amendments to the Rules for the Distribution for Net Settlement Surplus (NSS); Resolution Approving the Philippine Distribution Code (PDC) 2017 Edition; and Rules Supplementing the Switching and Billing Process and Adopting a Disconnection Policy for Contestable Customers.

As part of its ongoing zero-backlog project, the ERC also approved 16 power supply agreements, seven capital expenditure (capex) applications worth P 1.15 billion, and 25 decisions and show cause orders.

The commission improved and streamlined its eight work processes, including file applications, by developing an online platform with the assistance of World Bank.

The agency also improved its organizational structure and system with the revamp of the department in charge of the hiring of personnel.

The ERC teamed up with JobStreet Philippines to expedite the filling up of the 152 plantilla positions in the technical and legal manpower complement fields.

It also complied with the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) directive on the submission of a Merit Selection Plan with System of Ranking Positions and with the joint CSC-DBM-COA guidelines on Job Orders and Contract of Service.

An ERC Disciplinary and Investigating Committee was also created which will be in charge of formal investigations on disciplinary administrative cases against ERC employees pursuant to Section 34 of the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RACCS).

“We have achieved meaningful milestones, and we owe it to President Duterte with the continuing guidance and support from his office. The past four months was truly challenging, but we were able to achieve significant accomplishments with the valuable contributions of the Commissioners,” ERC chairperson and CEO Agnes Devanadera said.

Last December, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered for the suspension of ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana for delaying the conduct of competitive bidding in securing PSAs. The commissioners were sentenced to one year without pay.

In February, the four commissioners were reinstated after the agency received a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the suspension from the Court of Appeals’ (CA).

The CA has granted the ERC commissioners’ petition for a preliminary injunction in April.