Nasecore calls ERC to cite Meralco for alleged “abuse of market power”

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The National Association of Electric Consumers for Reforms Inc. (Nasecore) called on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to penalize the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) for alleged “abuse of market power.”

According to a BusinessMirror report, Nasecore pointed out that Meralco allegedly threatened the ERC into granting them provisional authority (PA) for their five, pending power supply agreement (PSA) applications, thus, tantamount to a threat to the government regulator as it provided the commission with a deadline to approve the contracts.

“The subject application seeks this PA which means that there is an emergency situation not within the control of Meralco. However, it should be stressed that this emergency situation is not based on a ‘force majeure’ situation,” Nasecore was quoted as saying in the report.

However, there was no force majeuer beyond Meralco’s control that prevented it from sourcing, procuring, and entering into bilateral contracts per law and rules governing the same, on the Power Demand and Supply Outlook and Distribution Development Plan it submitted to the Department of Energy (DOE) as early as 2016.

“Obviously, Meralco failed to do this, thus, creating this emergency condition which is of its own making. This application holds hostage the regulators into approving the contracts. It’s a veiled threat not only to ERC but also to its consumers. Meralco’s application for PA is not based on force majeure condition. Therefore, inappropriate, misplaced, and a violation of the law as this constitutes “abuse of market power,” such is not limited to unfair trade practices, monopolistic schemes, and any other activities that will hinder competitiveness or business and industries, ” Nasecore stated.

Meralco Assistant Vice President Joe Zaldarriaga expressed that these PSAs underwent competitive selection process (CSP) per regulations of the DOE.

“We presented and continue to present our evidence and testimony in public hearings at the ERC, during which other consumer groups expressed their support for the approval of the PSAs except, perhaps, for a few. We believe the PSAs will benefit our customers through cost competitive and reliable supply. To also say that we issued a threat or any form thereof is baseless, unfair, and devoid of factual and legal basis. I really hope that we just stick to the issues which is to obtain the least cost through reliable and adequate supply as evidenced by our submission to the regulator,” Zaldarriaga was quoted as saying.

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