Palace orders ERC, DOJ, PCC to help DOE probe gencos

Manila,-,Feb,14:,Malacanan,Palace14,Feb,,14,In,Manila.

Malacanang has ordered the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to help the Department of Energy (DOE) in its investigation of 17 generation companies (gencos) whose power plants went on prolonged unplanned outages.

Cabinet Sec. Karlo Nograles already sent a letter to the three agencies concerned. The Palace was acting on a request by the DOE to the cabinet seeking the said agencies’ assistance in determining if the gencos violated energy policies.

As early as April, the DOE said it would tap the ERC, DOJ, and PCC to check if the 17 gencos committed economic sabotage. At that time, the DOE warned of a possible Yellow Alert until June.

The gencos belong to private sector conglomerates such as Aboitiz Power Corporation, CBK Power Company Ltd., Lopez-led First Gen Corporation, Manny V. Pangilinan-led Global Business Power Corporation, Consunji-led Semirara Mining and Power Corporation, SMC Global Power Holdings, Cebu-based SPC Power Corporation, and TeaM Energy. Government-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation is also among those being probed.

Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said that he will alert the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to prepare for a possible probe of the gencos. The NBI is an attached agency of the DOJ.

At the Senate, energy committee chairman Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian called for an inquiry into the Luzon rotating brownouts with the goal of providing a long-term solution to power shortages, especially during summer, when demand peaks.

“The DOE even gave assurances during the Energy Committee’s hearing on April 27 that there is no high risk of supply shortage during the summer season, yet some areas in Luzon experienced rotational brownouts on May 31 and June 1 due to red alerts,” he said during the upper chamber’s plenary session on Wednesday.

Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi faced members of the House Committee on Energy on Friday morning over the Red Alerts and the country’s power situation.

Before this, he apologized to the public for the rotating brownouts. While he acknowledged that many of the power plants are old and in need of maintenance improvements, he cited mobility restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic as stumbling block.

Nagkaroon din po ng delays sa arrival ng mga spare parts [at ng] ibang technical people na pumupunta. Evertyime may dumarating dito na foreign technical consultants, humihingi tayo ng clearance sa [Inter-Agency Task Force],” Cusi said at Malacanang’s press briefing on Thursday.

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