By Myrna M. Velasco
In deference to the temporary restraining order (TRO) of the Supreme Court, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) sounded off that it will not act on extending or permitting continued service offer of retail electricity suppliers (RES) that have expired licenses.
ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera admitted that they have their hands tied on the matter, “because of the pending RCOA (retail competition and open access) case in the SC.”
She thus noted that regulatory action would not be exercised on the seven expired RES licenses – at least within the pendency of resolution of the RCOA’s temporary restraining order.
“We will only act if there is already an order from the Court,” she stressed, noting that with the status quo, the concerns of the RES will not be in their line-up of ‘to do list’ in the next 60 days that its suspended Commissioners had been allowed to be back in office.
The Retail Electricity Suppliers Association, Inc. (RESA) had elevated their concern to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, particularly on their bid to be allowed with their service offers despite the lingering dilemmas of the power industry.
The plea of the RES players would be for them to be given the same leverage as getting allowed on service continuity, similar to what was earlier prescribed for the power plants with pending or un-acted certificates of compliance by the ERC.
Nevertheless, that appeal had been anchored on the suspension then of the ERC Commissioners – and on their return to office, that premise may have already been negated.
“We have TRO on that case. So what will happen there is – even if these RES licenses expired, there’s really nothing we can do about it,” Devanadera stressed.
She added that on forward direction, the ERC will need to consult the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) as to how they will handle specific appeal or filing with the Commission relative to the case.
That has also been in line with the recent Circular issuance of the Department of Energy (DOE) that had effectively diverted its position on the RCOA policy – chiefly after the issuance of the high court’s restraining order.
“The last time we went to see the SolGen (Solicitor General Jose Calida), it was just to ask whether they will continue handling the case for ERC. We have to ask them because of the difference of opinion also of the OSG and DOE because of the (DOE’s) Circular,” the ERC chief said.
She narrated that the response they had gotten was “for the OSG not being able to represent DOE anymore because of their difference in opinion…so when we went to clarify, the SolGen said, we will continue to represent you (ERC).”