By Myrna M. Velasco
As backlogs on regulatory cases and rule-making processes had been holding up investment flows in the power sector, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) indicated that it will be employing multi-pronged strategies to clear up its dockets.
ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera said part of the game plan of the Commission is to institute “grouping of cases,” with her noting that those petitions seeking “confidential treatment” for instance could be decided simultaneously for even 10 cases at a time.
That way, she said, such strategy could help unclog the volumes of pending cases and applications that the regulatory body has to act on.
Another strategy set forth by the Commission is undertaking workshops “to discuss the cases” – and then these cases will have to be assigned to the ad hoc committees that are being headed by the Commissioners themselves.
Devanadera said this is one way to demarcate and delineate cases – such as ascertaining which applications or petitions need urgent and priority action; and also to mark out the cases that had already been languishing for years.
“We have to prioritize. That’s why I’m saying, we also need to tweak some systems because we cannot just simply say that: This is an old case, so this should be acted upon first. Sometimes, there are matters needing priority action like those relating to power supply,” she stressed.
The ERC chief further noted that another approach being advanced is digitalizing the regulatory body’s system, of which a fraction of the Commission’s budget this year will be funneled into improving its information technology (IT) platform.
“If the automation of our system will be carried out, we will have easier way of processing information as well as in gathering data,” Devanadera expounded.
The ERC chief qualified that “backlog does not mean pending,” with her noting that there are volumes of cases being filed at the Commission inexhaustibly – not just applications or petitions, but even motions for reconsideration (MRs) of parties in existing cases.
The challenge, she explicated, is “how to make these cases current – like for example the MRs, we should be able to dispose them so the Commission can move to the other pending cases.”
The ERC has been saddled with hundreds if not thousands of case backlogs through the years, hence, this is one big burden that the current leadership of the regulatory body has to steadfastly act on if they have to guarantee continuous flow of investments as well as to ensure reliable power supply for the Filipino consumers over the long term.