Energy officials vow to push for new RCOA policy despite TRO

Energy officials vow to push for new RCOA policy despite TRO

The Energy Regulatory Commission vowed that it will explore all legal options to implement the new retail competition and open access (RCOA) policy after the Supreme Court (SC) issued a TRO on February 21.

“We hold firmly to our position that the reforms are good for the country. We keep our hope that the High Court would also see the wisdom and merit of our position on these reforms,” ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar said.

The Department of Energy (DOE) said it is part of their mandate to ensure the security, reliability and availability of electricity in the country.

“The spirit of the RCOA is giving the consumers the freedom of choice which would result in higher productivity for them. And the power of choice can only be maximized when there is a level playing field for all suppliers,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.

“It is hoped that whatever the decision by the Supreme Court, it will redound to the ultimate benefit of the consumers, which is really the intent and the spirit of RCOA,” he added.

The high court on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order on the ERC and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) new policy on the RCOA, a provision under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) that has not yet been implemented.

Read: Supreme Court issues TRO vs. DOE, ERC’s new RCOA policy

“The Court noted that petitioners have established a clear, legal right to the TRO considering that the EPIRA Law provides for the voluntary migration of end-users to the contestable market and there appears to be no basis for the mandatory migration being ordered by the DoE and the ERC through the questioned issuances,” the SC said.

The RCOA regime gives contestable customers the freedom to choose their electricity supplier. Under the new policy, big power consumers with at least 1 megawatt of demand are required to source their electricity from 23 retail energy suppliers (RES) designated by the ERC.

The TRO is effective immediately until further notice. The petition was filed by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Ateneo de Manila University, Riverbanks Development Corp., and San Beda College-Alabang.

“We welcome the TRO from the Supreme Court En Banc stopping the implementation of these questionable regulations. We look forward to an opportunity for the consumers to further ventilate our contention that these regulations are unconstitutional and  violative of the EPIRA Law,” said Rodel Cruz of Cruz Marcelo & Tenefrancia, counsel of PCCI, Ateneo, Riverbanks and San Beda.

“We will comply with the Supreme Court mandate. We will talk with ERC and PEMC for a unified policy for players to be guided,” DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said.

DOE, ERC and the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) are set to make a unified statement on Friday.