Consumers ask government to investigate electricity market abuse

Consumer advocacy group CitizenWatch Philippines called for an investigation on the possible market abuse and anti-competitive behaviour that led to power outages in Luzon last week.

“Accountability and transparency for power interruptions and outages should be in force. This especially holds true on the part of the generation companies as their generation charges comprise a large chunk of what the consumers pay for in their electricity bills,” CitizenWatch Philippines convenor Hannah Viola said in a statement.

Viola said the Electric Power Industry Reform Act  of 2001 identified the obligation of power producers in ensuring that “generation of electric power shall be competitive and open.” 

“This provision entails that abuse of market power should be avoided and its anti-competitive behavior should always be observed,” Viola said.

“This obligation is underscored now more than ever as electricity rates are set to increase this month. This price hike is attributable to higher charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market from the tight supply in the Luzon grid and the weakening of the peso against US dollar,” Viola said.

CitizenWatch Philippines said the allegations of collusion by power generators should be thoroughly investigated as historical data showed that there was a correlation between the decrease of supply and increase of electricity prices.

“Having a stable supply of power is a matter that is imbued with public interest and general welfare. As the confidence of the electricity consumers and the integrity of the electricity market largely depend on the transparency of data, measures should be made to ensure transparency through an energy platform,” said Viola.

The Philippine Independent Power Producers Inc. said it was cognizant of the recent difficulties the public was encountering due to the increase of demand in relation to the current availability of energy. 

PIPPA assured consumers that its member generators were working doubly hard and exerting their best efforts to supply and produce enough electricity. 

“All our member generators, especially those who are encountering technical difficulties, are fully transparent and in constant coordination with the lead agencies with the submission of real-time data and updates in order for these agencies to predict and come up with adequate energy supply and reserve,” PIPPA said.

“PIPPA members are prepared to answer any and all inquiries as to the status of their plants. In the meantime, we would like to request for the public’s patience and trust that these technical difficulties will be fixed in the soonest possible time,” PIPPA said.

CitizenWatch cited the need to resolve the delays in the processing of applications for new power plants at the regulatory level, amid the pressing need for more power plants to meet the growing demand.

It said that while many energy projects are in the pipeline, these are not being realized due to the delays in the Energy Regulatory Commission.

“Regulatory delays in the approval of power generation projects should be thwarted. It is not enough that power projects are committed and approved, they should be executed and implemented as soon as possible,” the consumer advocacy group said.

CitizenWatch Philippines made the call after grid National Grid Corp. of the Philippines declared  “red alert” in the Luzon grid for three days last week because of insufficient operating reserves.​

Topics: CitizenWatch Philippines , National Grid Corp , Wholesale Electricity Spot Market , Electric Power Industry Reform Act
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