Group that filed Ombudsman case vs Cusi is 'misinformed', says DOE

Published July 23, 2021, 7:26 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Department of Energy (DOE) lashed back Friday afternoon, July 23 at the Power for the People Coalition (P4P), calling the group “misinformed” after it filed complaints of gross neglect of duty against Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi before the Office of the Ombudsman that same morning.

DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi (File photo/ Screengrab from Facebook live)

“Power for the People Coalition is misinformed and has a skewed appreciation of the facts regarding the performance of the Department of Energy…The DOE, under Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, has been coming up with policies to address the power situation,” the agency said in a statement.

Cusi is the newly-installed president of the ruling party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). What triggered P4P to file charges against Cusi was his involvement in political intramurals ahead of the May 2022 national polls at a time when the Luzon grid has been slipping in and out of yellow alert status because of dwindling power reserves.

The DOE went on to remind P4P of Cusi’s past accomplishments as energy chief.

“In 2018, during the pending of the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) before the Supreme Court, Secretary Cusi issued the 2018 CSP policy in order to guide the power industry players on how to procure the power ‘in the least cost manner’. The Supreme Court later issued its decisions practically telling the power industry players to follow the 2018 Cusi Policy,” the DOE said.

The statement also highlighted that the agency completed the mechanisms under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 that were aimed at facilitating greater private sector investments in renewables – including the participation of electricity consumers in renewable energy (RE) development, thus enabling them to produce their own electricity requirements, or to choose RE as their chosen supply.

“These include the Renewable Portfolio Standards policy, Green Energy Option Program policy, and Enhanced Net-Metering System, among others, which are geared towards achieving a 35 percent RE share by year 2030,” it said.

“Also worth mentioning are the reports made by the DOE to the Cabinet Assistance System to address the compliance needed from the power industry players, considering that under Section 46 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the DOE can only recommend the revocation/cancellation of the Franchise to Congress,” it further read.

“Landmark pieces of legislation were likewise signed into law by President Duterte, namely the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS) Law to address the timely processing of energy applications and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, upon the presentations made by the DOE,” it noted.

Earlier Friday, electricity consumers led by the P4P, Sanlakas, and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) filed against Cusi charges of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty, inefficiency and incompetence in the performance of official duties, and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of service in connection with the recent power rate hikes.

A separate statement from P4P said that Cusi–since entering office in 2016–“saw through an annual occurrence of forced and unplanned shutdowns of power plants resulting in outages and higher electricity bills.”