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ERC halts power disconnection of contestable customers

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has issued a cease-and-desist order against retail electricity suppliers (RES) issuing disconnection notices to contestable customers.

A similar order was also issued to distribution utilities (DUs) and the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP), the ERC said in a statement.

The ERC directed the parties to maintain the status quo while the energy regulatory body is still evaluation motions to dismiss filed by the RES segment of the power market.

Contestable customers are large end-users authorized to purchase power directly from the RES segment under the retail competition and open access program (RCOA), as allowed under Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

“During this period, the parties are required to observe the terms and conditions of their supply agreements,” the ERC said.

The ERC said it has issued 13 cease-and-desist orders following complaints of customers, whose interpretation of the rules on RES entitlements to fuel cost recovery adjustments are at variance with the RES interpretation.

The ERC said that the contestable customers claim their contracts specify a fixed rate. The RES segment claims the issue is beyond the ERC’s jurisdiction.

“RES respondents meanwhile raised jurisdictional issues against ERC. DUs and the IEMOP, on the other hand, were impleaded since the issuance of notices and the disconnections of service are performed by such parties,” ERC said.

RCOA introduces retail competition to the energy industry. It allows consumers of an average of 500 kilowatts over the last 12 months to obtain retail supply contracts from the RES segment. Energy consumers can also customize their supply contracts according to dispatch, technology, or power plant.

The ERC said it will strive to ensure the continuity of the electricity supply pending a final resolution. — Ashley Erika O. Jose  

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