IMBESTIGAHAN AT PANAGUTIN: Solon calls for investigation of power firms over plant outages

ERC approves Mindanao transmission backbone project

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should probe power generation companies over the unplanned or forced outages.

This was what Senate committee on Energy chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian tasked the two energy agencies after discovering that there are no pending penalties for power companies that fail to provide their committed capacity even after their plant outages.

“I think we should impose heavier penalties as a policymaker because a lot of people are affected,” Gatchalian told Manila Bulletin reporters during the hearing.

“I just want to urge the department and the regulator to look at this concept of dis-incentivizing delays, forced and unplanned outages,” he added.

Gatchalian noted the importance of the results of the investigation to learn if there was collusion.

“We have asked them to start the investigation because the process is long and tedious. We also advised them to be alert against such kind of incident,” he was quoted as saying.

ERC Chairman Agnes Devanadera was also at the hearing and promised that the Commission will be very strict in holding power generation companies accountable.

DOE assistant secretary Redentor Delola said the agency will ensure policy initiatives on “penalizing the delays of committed plants.”

He also added that power consumers will have to burden the electricity costs as “generation charges are all passed to consumers.”

However, he said this will only happen if there are no power replacement provisions in the contract of power distribution utilities (DU), which will force them to by from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

Gatchalian said the government is persistent in ensuring the consumers are unburdened by forced or unplanned power plant outages of the generation companies.

He added that consumers should not suffer the consequences when power generation companies fail to provide supply demand.

“We have to make sure that consumers are not being saddled with the responsibility of the proponents because that is transferred to consumers,” he said during the hearing.

“Because of these unplanned and forced power outages consumers are forced to pay higher rates but it’s not even their fault,” he pointed out.

“So why should consumers be penalized when there are forced and unplanned outages?” he said.