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Gov’t to keep close watch on power sector players

Antitrust body signs pact with energy agency to check violations

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) signed on Tuesday a memorandum of agreement to collaborate against anticompetitive and collusive behavior among energy players, with those found guilty liable to fines of up to P250 million and jail time of up to seven years.

In a statement, PCC said the partnership was meant to promote market competition and coordinate investigations in the power sector.

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“(We) share a common vision of a more robust competition landscape in the power industry,” PCC Chair Arsenio M. Balisacan said. “With the energy department having the technical assets and ensuring proper functioning of the energy sector, we are confident this complementation of efforts with PCC’s own investigative capacity will lead to a stronger push for competition enforcement.”

Being the country’s competition authority, PCC is mandated to prohibit anticompetitive agreements and conduct in all sectors of the economy and impose fines and penalties for violators.

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For its part, DOE is responsible for implementing policies that ensure reliability, quality and security of electricity supply.

Under the MOA, the two partners are committed to help each other in terms of information sharing, investigation support, technical audits, joint task forces and continued capacity-building and consultations.

Balisacan said the agreement also paves the way for the creation of a technical working group to coordinate investigation efforts into alleged collusion or abuses of dominance in the energy sector.

“Ensuring consumers are provided adequate supply of electricity on fair terms and prices while allowing market players of all sizes to operate on a level playing field is at the center of our partnership,” he added.

In April, the PCC said it would look into allegations of possible collusion or abuse of dominance of certain power generators following “simultaneous shutdowns that may have caused an artificial supply shortage and consequently a hike in electricity prices.”

The Energy Regulatory Commission has announced neither a wrap up nor findings of an investigation that it was conducting. ERC officials said both new and aging power plants in the Luzon grid were among those that suffered forced or unscheduled outage as well as those undergoing scheduled maintenance.

Despite the plant outages, Manila Electric Co. has lowered its overall rates twice—for the May and June billing cycles—at a total of 46.76 centavos a kilowatt-hour.

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Meralco, which accounts for about three-quarters of power demand in Luzon, said generation charges had been going down in the past two months due to the strengthening of the peso against the dollar as well as lower fuel prices.

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TAGS: Business, Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), power sector
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