Senators press ERC: Compel NGCP to refund charges for unfinished projects

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 29 2023 09:57 PM

MANILA — Senators coming from the majority and minority blocs crossed alliances Monday with one common goal: press the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to refund the P2.75 per kilowatt hour being charged by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to Filipino consumers.

Sen. Francis Escudero in a press briefing Monday stressed that while there is a call for refund of the seemingly advanced payment of consumers to the NGCP’s unfinished projects, the move should come from the ERC.

“Ang dapat hilingan ng paliwanag at panawagan, dapat naka-address sa ERC. Lahat ng amount na nakalagay sa bill ninyo, sa electric bill nating lahat, lahat yan dumaan at pinayagan ng ERC. At inamin mismo ng ERC sa pagdinig na pinayagan nila yung pagsingil ng NGCP sa mga proyektong ginagawa pa lamang at hindi tapos,” Escudero said.

The refund petition can be filed by anybody who consumes electricity before the ERC, the senator said.

The ERC, on the other hand, can also investigate and rule on this matter “motu proprio,” Escudero pointed out.

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros echoed Escudero’s points, adding that the planned review of the concession agreement should also result to the non-renewal of the NGCP contract.

Hontiveros said the NGCP can actually come up with its own ruling with respect to its collected payments for the corporation’s unfinished projects.

“Even in the absence of an ERC order, as a condition of their franchise, the NGCP must pass a resolution restricting the payout of any dividend where CAPEX (capital expenditure) for transmission expansion remains unfulfilled during the five-year rate recalibration period that allows them to collect subject to an allowable WACC (Weighted Average Cost of Capital) ceiling,” Hontiveros said.

Several lawmakers have also called for the review of the NGCP franchise, alleging that it was inefficient. 

National security concerns were also raised as 40 percent of the NGCP is owned by State Grid Corporation of China.