Petilla rejects calls for immediate refund after ERC order

by Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2014 07:03 PM | Updated as of Mar 13 2014 05:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla says militant groups' suggestion that the increases in the generation charge for Meralco's December and January billings should be set aside due to the "market failure" at the spot market cannot happen.

Petilla explains even without the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), electricity prices were still more expensive than the previous months because Meralco's suppliers like Sta Rita, San Lorenzo and Ilijan all used liquid fuel which is more expensive than natural gas.

The Malampaya natural gas facility was on maintenance shutdown from November 11 to December 10, 2013.

Petilla, who is also chairman of the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), says the number-crunching is already underway and it will take 7 days to come up with the final figure on how much should generation charge be for November and December bills of Meralco from generating companies.

He also clarified the PEMC board has no discretion at all in the computation since the ERC has already ordered them to base the computation on the average prices of electricity from January to September 2013.

All the PEMC must do is to compute the hourly interval based on the formula set by ERC, the DOE chief said.

On the issue of generators losing money from the ERC decision, Petilla said, "Sa tingin ko walang maluluging investors, di lang sila kikita ng katakot takot, mababawasan lang ang kita... Pero di sila malulugi."

On Meralco's request for several plants to postpone the maintenance shutdown for the rainy season, Petilla said the schedule was finalized long before Meralco's plea.

The Ilijan plant, for instance, will not be able to halt its scheduled maintenance starting this Friday.

According to Petilla, to cover for the absence of 540 megawatts, the Malaya thermal plant will be on standby from March 15 to April 9 just in case supply becomes deficient.

While Petilla admits that supply will be tight this summer, based on projections, the government does not see any deficiency in electricity this summer. Nevertheless, the Energy chief said everyone must still conserve the use of electricity.