Aboitiz legal counsel appointed ERC chairperson

Published August 4, 2022, 12:47 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Office of the President has released on Wednesday, Aug. 3, the appointment papers of the new Energy Regulatory Commission chairperson lawyer Monalisa Carneo Dimalanta, who served as chief legal counsel and compliance Officer of Aboitiz Power Corporation prior to her appointment.

Dimalanta, an alumna of the University of the Philippines-College of Law, will be replacing Agnes T. Devanadera, who retired as chairperson of the power industry’s regulatory body last July 10.

The incoming ERC chief previously served as chairperson of the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB), the entity that has been aiding the Department of Energy (DOE) in enticing renewable energy (RE) investments in the country.

It was also NREB under Dimalanta’s term that helped both the DOE and ERC in sorting out the details of the Green Energy Auction Program (GEAP), which is underpinning the industry’s compliance to the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) policy of the Renewable Energy Act.

The RPS prescribes that mandated participants – primarily the distribution utilities (DUs) – will need to secure warranted percentage of their supply from renewable energy (RE) capacities – that way the goal of the government for 35-percent RE in the energy mix could be achieved by year 2035; and for it to be ramped up to 50-percent by 2040.

Before taking the helm at NREB, Dimalanta has been a senior partner at PJS (Puyat Jacinto & Santos) law firm, where she also served as legal counsel to various energy companies; and she’s also a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University Law School.

So far, Dimalanta is already the second appointee in the energy sector whose previous work had been linked with Aboitiz Power – the first to be designated by the Marcos administration had been Energy Secretary Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla, who served as independent director in the board of the Aboitiz firm.

As of this writing, industry talks are likewise rife that one of the candidates as President and CEO of state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) is an executive of Aboitiz Power, but Malacanang has yet to formally issue an appointment for that attached entity of the DOE.

The other posts yet to be filled up in the energy sector are those of state-run National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) and National Power Corporation (NPC) – and it has been turning out as a guessing game which industry player will get the upper hand also on those positions.

One of the proposed amendments in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) being pushed by the Marcos administration is to strengthen the role of the ERC for it to become a tough, independent and fair regulator of the deregulated electricity sector.

As Dimalanta served in private energy companies, including in her career as a lawyer at PJS, industry stakeholders are watching closely on how she will institute balancing act and exercise fairness in her new role – especially so since the ERC will need to strictly enforce discipline on the players of the power industry – including the habitually delinquent power plants that have been suffering forced outages frequently and triggering spikes in power rates to the detriment of the Filipino consumers.