Energy sector 'old boys club' blamed for unplanned, frequent outages

Published June 6, 2021, 2:58 PM

by Ben Rosario

The list of power generation companies (Gencos) tagged by the Energy Regulatory Commission for longer unplanned outages include recidivists who belong to the “old boys club”, Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate disclosed on Sunday, June 6.

Zarate said these power generation firms have recently been issued by the ERC with notices of non-compliance after causing rotational brownouts in the past several weeks that “also spiked electricity prices.”

Zarate aired this observation during the June 4 briefing made by power regulating agencies before the House Committee on Energy.

ERC Chairperson Agnes Devanadera confirmed that from January to April this year, a total 35 Gencos were issued with notices of non-compliance to various regulations, particularly the government policy of “no maintenance” or shutdown during summer that could trigger shutdown of power plans and the thinning of power supply.

The ERC chief also admitted that only 15 of those sent notices have complied with its directive.

“I was looking at the list provided by the ERC, at dito natin makikita na (we can see here that) these are the same gencos that shutdown their power plants always during summer time. Parang (seems) they belong to the same ‘old boys club’ that shutting down their plant every summertime is their favored activity,” said Zarate.

He cited the case of Calaca 2 went on 113 days of unplanned outage, went past the 16.8 days granted by ERC.

Sual 2 also went far beyond the allowed 16.8 days of unplanned outage, registering a total 113 days.

“Then, there’s another one na 109 days ang actual, while, 84 days na yung iba. Sila rin ang mga plantang dati na nating sinasabi na perennially nagsa-shutdown during summer (These are the same plants that have reportedly been perennially going on shutdown during summer)” Zarate told the Committee.

The opposition stalwart said the ERC has a lot of explaining to do with regards these power firms.

“Chair Devenadera knows that this is not new so they should have been able to already address this nagging issue by now at hindi tayo nalalagay na naman sa alanganin (and we are not placed in a difficult situation)“ he stressed.

As Zarate called on ERC to fast-track its investigation, he noted that in 2013 the Supreme Court have already warned of the possible “gaming of the system” to create an artificial supply deficit, thus, spiking the prices of electricity and a profit windfall for the energy players.

He also noted that even with the Duterte administration’s supposed energy plan, energy-concerned agencies have “different take on what to do, at the expense of our already suffering people.”