The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is proposing stronger penalties and implementing jail provisions in the proposed revisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) 2001.
ERC Chairperson Monalisa Dimalanta claimed that the ERC has already given its comments for the anticipated revisions to Republic Act 9136 to the Department of Energy (DOE), which solidifies the suggestions.
Dimalanta continued by saying that the commission is pushing for several revisions, including increasing fines to up to Php 500 million.
Currently, the ERC can only charge Php 50 million for a maximum fine per violation.
Dimalanta also convened meetings with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to tackle issues related to non-compliance with EPIRA and rulings by the ERC.
This is a proactive effort to hold accountable those who continue their service in non-compliance, even in the face of imposed fines and penalties, Dimalanta said.
Under EPIRA, ERC’s responsibilities include fostering market growth, fostering competition, and enforcing sanctions against those who misuse their position of authority in the electrical sector.
The commission chairperson affirmed that the ERC has the authority to impose laws. The commission may request assistance from other government organizations to enforce the Public Service Act as amended, adding that the DOJ meeting has to do with the procedure.
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Raffy Tulfo has also expressed his intention to propose amendments to the EPIRA that would include increasing the current fine, which he considers to be inadequate.
Dimalanta emphasized the need for clear and defined roles between the ERC and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), as there may be overlapping responsibilities. She clarified that the ERC holds the authority in regulating the energy sector.
She added that a prior Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the PCC and ERC had been signed. By exchanging information and conducting collaborative fact-finding investigations that are appropriate to industry competition issues, the proposed methods would make it possible for both parties to work together to accomplish their respective missions.
She mentioned that the ERC would coordinate with the PCC regarding their input on the proposals.
Additionally, the ERC is actively pursuing organizational changes to align with the evolving retail-oriented market. They recognize the importance of flexibility in reshaping the organization to adapt to the changing dynamics of the industry.