ERC files petition with CA to block TRO in favor of another power unit of SMC

Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 22 2022 01:20 PM | Updated as of Dec 22 2022 03:08 PM

The Energy Regulatory Commission has filed a petition with the Court of Appeals to block the issuance of a temporary restraining order in favor of another power unit of San Miguel Corporation.

ERC Chair Monalisa Dimalanta has confirmed the filing, divulging that Meralco filed a similar petition with the CA.

In late November, the CA issued a TRO in favor of South Premiere Power Corp. (SPPC), a unit of SMC, temporarily suspending for 60 days the power supply agreement with Meralco.

The San Miguel-owned plants went to the CA after the ERC denied their petition to raise power rates to recover the soaring cost of fuel.

The plea for a price increase was denied by ERC since the regulatory body ruled that the agreed price in the PSA is fixed in nature, and the grounds for the increase cited by SPPC and Meralco were not among the exceptions that would allow for price adjustment.

When asked if consumers should brace for higher rates in the first part of 2023, Dimalanta says it's possible. 

But if Meralco succeeds in asking SMC plants to cover the price difference between the original contract price and the current electricity prices sourced from the spot market and emergency power supply agreements, then there is a chance that price increases will be minimal, said Dimalanta.

But then again, another one of the 3 remaining refunds will be gone in the January 2023 billing, that's P0.28/kwh, which will add pressure for higher rates.

Dimalanta says she will move for the deferment of the implementation of the Supreme Court decision authorizing the higher generation charge in 2013.

During that time, the generation charge rose tremendously during the Malampaya shutdown in the middle of red and yellow alerts.

Initial estimates point to an increase of P3.44/kwh but no official computation has been made on its actual impact on the bills of consumers.

As factors mount, all leading to higher power rates, electricity consumers are demanding representation in issues involving power rates. is asking that consumer groups be consulted during the review of power supply agreements that impact electricity rates.

ERC Chair Dimalanta says, this needs an amendment to the magna carta for consumers, where there is a need to file a formal petition if consumer groups want to intervene in the hearing.

The group proposes the creation of an advisory council under the office of the chairperson or an additional 2 commissioners representing consumers in the current 5-member commission.

But this needs an amendment to the EPIRA law.