Almendras says open access by December 'very challenging'

By Donnabelle L. Gatdula, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 05 2011 07:21 AM | Updated as of Jul 05 2011 03:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras has admitted that the implementation of the open access scheme by December this year would be “very challenging”.

“There are still problems and challenges that I’m still looking for solutions. We’re looking for solutions to these challenges that will need time and resources,” he said.

The energy chief said they have no definite plan yet on how to go about the open access scheme. “We’re discussing with the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) on how best to implement open access. It’s very, very challenging - the timeline to implement it,” he said.

He said they still do not have a concrete timetable.”I would not know - we don’t have that yet and we don’t even have a plan,” he said, when asked how much investment would be needed to set up the infrastructure for open access.

According to Almendras, they are looking at all options to properly carry out open access.

He said the option to tap Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) to act as the settlement agent for open access would also be difficult.

“I’m not sure if PEMC would like to go into the retail competition. It’s difficult enough to do the spot market. We’re even having problems with the PEMC system right now. We need to enhance the existing software and build new software to be more effective,” he said.

“All I can say is, it’s very challenging. Challenging since we need to put rules, put systems, put infrastructures, you need to bid out contracts, who will bring the meters, what’s the meter standards - and these are concerns that need to be threshed out.”

He said the ERC and DOE have to work together to put these things in place to implement open access and retail competition.”

Open access and retail competition (OARC) will introduce competition in the retail supply segment of the electric power industry.

Under open access, contestable customers may now choose their electricity service provider while Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will continue to be the networks and metering service provider. This means that electricity end-users with an average monthly peak demand of one megawatt for the 12 months preceding Dec. 26, 2011 will now have a choice from whom to procure their electricity service.