Given the unremitting jolt on workplaces brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) announced that it has revised its Rules of Practice and Procedure (RPP) so this can keep pace with the ‘new normal setting’ in the regulation of the energy sector.
As pointed out by ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera the ‘new normal’ set up in their regulatory processes will ensure that they can still continuously perform their mandate because “ we can remotely access and act on applications or complaints filed before our office, while protecting the health and safety of electric power stakeholders and that of our employees.”
Primary feature of the regulatory body’s modified RPP is the electronic filing of applications, petitions or
motions; as well as the virtual hearings being carried out relative to the deliberations of cases lodged before the ERC for decision or action.
“The revised rules of practice and procedure or the revised RPP responds to the requirements of the ‘new normal’ setting,” the ERC chief stressed.
The other rules laid down had been on what could be rendered as prohibited pleadings; the mandate on the transfer of interest or substitution; and the cancellation of the notice of hearings due to force majeure or declaration of suspension of government office.
The revised RPP also tackles the effect of final determination; postponements; filing of additional documents required by the Commission; applications for approval of other rate and non-rate cases; public hearings and public consultations as well as the submission of complaints electronically.
Devanadera further explained that the changes in the RPP had been “among ERC’s adaptive measure for the new normal.”
She emphasized the new rules likewise “abide by the Supreme Court’s directive to implement an online filing system in order to limit the physical contact of both employees and concerned stakeholders, particularly at this time of the pandemic.”
The tweaks in the RPP, according to the ERC, had been promulgated following series of consultations and after securing comprehensive inputs from array of relevant stakeholders across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The revised RPP, the regulatory body noted, complements Resolution No. 07 which was issued in October last year, and that fundamentally prescribed the “transitory implementation of legal e-processes pending the adoption of the interim guidelines” that shall govern the electronic filing of petitions/applications as well as the regulatory body’s conduct of virtual public hearings.
The ERC’s role, primarily in rate-setting as well as on issuing licenses for continued operations of generating facilities must be guaranteed to be seamless so consumers can be assured of fair electricity rates being reflected in their bills; and for them not be inconvenienced with brownouts or power service interruptions.