Solons question ERC’s ‘flexi time’ for power firms’ compliance deadlines
What are deadlines for?
Lawmakers on Wednesday questioned the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) extension of “business hours” for electricity distributors on the last day they will be allowed to procure their power supply without holding a competitive selection process.
During the House of Representatives good government committee’s Wednesday hearing, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the applications for four power supply agreements were even received by the docket on May 2, 2016 (Monday), when the deadline was actually Apr. 29, 2016 (Friday).
The applications involved the Manila Electric Company’s PSAs with Mariveles Power Generation Corp., Global Luzon Energy Development Corp., Panay Energy Development Corp., and Central Luzon Premiere Power Corp.
General records division secretary Cheryl Calinog explained that the four PSAs were being assessed at the time by the technical working group, and the physical documents did not reach the docket that day, so it was received only on the following Monday morning, May 2.
She said their now-resigned director Jojo Tomas instructed them to receive it on the date of Apr. 29, omitting the time.
Meralco’s PSAs that were filed within day—involving Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc., Atimonan One Energy, and St. Raphael Power Generation Corp.—were marked received by the ERC docket from 5:30 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. on Apr. 29.
Good government committee chair Rep. Johnny Pimentel questioned why these were still accommodated when the published invitation indicated a deadline of “the close of business hours, with 5 p.m. in parenthesis.”
ERC Commissioner Josefina Patricia Asirit replied: “We have flexi time.”
But, Pimentel pointed out that all government agencies close at 5 p.m.
“You cannot base that on your flexi time. You base the deadline on what you published. When you set the time at 5 p.m., after 5 p.m. you do not submit any more submission in the drop box,” he said.
The inquiry centered on the ERC’s postponement of the implementation of its rules requiring utilities to hold competitive bidding in procuring their power supply to drive down consumer prices.
The rules mandating the CSP ended up taking effect on Apr. 30, 2016, instead of the original plan of Nov. 6, 2015. This allegedly allowed Meralco to enter into alleged “midnight deals” with its own power generation affiliates supposedly to the disadvantage of electricity consumers.
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