Senator Win Gatchalian wants the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to have its own charter to give the regulatory body more teeth in addressing industry issues such as delays of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP’) transmission projects.
While the ERC has received the explanation submitted by the NGCP regarding the delays in the completion of its multiple transmission projects, industry issues such as these have prompted Gatchalian to file Senate Bill no. 487, An Act Enhancing The Governance Structures Of The Energy Regulatory Commission. If enacted into law, the proposed measure will hope to provide ERC with more teeth to regulate various stakeholders in the energy sector.
“The birth of ERC came about because of EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001). But if you read EPIRA, there is much room for improvement especially given recent developments in the industry, so I am going to push for the creation of ERC charter,” vowed Gatchalian, adding he has already discussed the issue with Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and ERC Chairperson Monalisa Dimalanta and they all agreed on the need to revisit the powers of the ERC.
“ERC is one of the most important actors in the energy sector, so we have to make sure that it has enough power to penalize,” Gatchalian stressed. He added that as a regulator, ERC plays an important role in ensuring that the interests of consumers are protected, and its governance structure should foster independence, transparency, and accountability.
The vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Energy had earlier called on the ERC to penalize NGCP for its failure to complete transmission projects on time, leading to disruption in the flow of the county’s energy supply. According to the ERC, the completion of about 66 transmission projects is currently delayed, excluding 6 projects of national significance. One is the Mindanao-Visayas interconnection project which was due for completion in 2019. Due to delays, the project was set to become operational in June or July of this year. “That’s one of the most critical infrastructure projects because we have surplus power in Mindanao of about 200 to 400 megawatts that can be delivered to the Visayas region,” he noted.
According to Gatchalian, the proposed creation of the ERC Charter also bodes well with another proposed legislation to rightsize the government bureaucracy.