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CA reconsiders order on intervention petitions on Meralco PSAs; favors consumer

/ 09:53 PM November 28, 2018

The Court of Appeals has reconsidered its earlier resolution denying the petition of consumer advocate Romeo L. Junia for review of an Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) decision favoring Meralco and ordered the giant utility to file its comment on the order within 10 days from receipt.

Junia  is a consumer intervener opposing approval of seven Meralco power supply agreements allegedly filed after the ERC’s Competitive Selection Process deadline and above market price.

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The CA had earlier denied his petition for review in February this year. In the November 15, 2018 order, however, the Court said: “After a careful review of the arguments, we shall allow the instant motion (for reconsideration). We agree with Junia that the public be provided an opportunity to determine whether or not the public may attain, in the best way, the least-cost energy in the Power Supply Agreements…”

“This new order will give us the opportunity to make our case against Meralco and its midnight contracts before the Court and eventually at ERC, when my petition to intervene is given due course,” Junia said. “I consider this a breakthrough, even if it now pertains only to the reconsideration of the petition for review earlier denied, not yet on the merits.”

“We hope the Courts will continue to serve as check or oversight for the shortcomings of the regulators. This CA order brings us one step closer to institutionalizing judicial oversight for consumer protection in the power industry. Fortunately for consumers, the Appellate Court in its latest order affirms and highlights consumer rights in rate determination; ironically, ERC which is supposed to balance if not safeguard consumer interest in rate determination, is the one that denies consumers the right to participate in rate setting, by one subterfuge or another,” he added.

On January 18, 2018, Junia filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Review of ERC’s denial of his petition to intervene in Meralco’s applications for approval of its PSAs because of late filing.

He argued that Meralco’s PSAs were filed out of time or after deadline and should not have been received and docketed without compliance with the Competitive Selection Process.

Lacking the CSP, the contracts were not aligned with market price and were for inordinately long terms – 20 to 22 years.  Moreover, out of the seven PSAs, Meralco thru wholly owned Meralco Power Generation Company has substantial investments in at least five of the PSAs, with the biggest plant (1,200MW) 100 percent owned by MGen.

The PSAs are Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc. for 225MW, 47 percent owned by MGen; Atimnonan One Energy, 1,200MW, 100 percent owned; St. Raphael Power Gen. Corp, 400MW, 50 percent owned; Central Luzon Premiere Power Corp. 528MW; Mariveles Power Gen. Corp. 528MW, 49 percent owned; Panay Energy Dev. Corp. 70MW, 14 percent owned; and, Global Luzon Energy Devt. Corp, 600MW.

The decision was handed by CA’s Third Division composed of Associate Justices Rosmari D. Carandang as chairperson, Elihu A. Ybanez, and Pedro B. Corales.

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TAGS: Business, Court of Appeals, Meralco, power sector, power supply agreements
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