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SMC Global Power appeals rate hike denial — ERC

SMC GLOBAL Power Holdings Corp. is appealing the decision of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) denying its petition for temporary relief to partially recover losses.

“We have just received it on Monday. They filed a petition for certiorari to the Court of Appeals (CA), meaning they are appealing that it is not within our jurisdiction,” ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Monalisa C. Dimalanta told reporters on Thursday on the sidelines of an energy conference.

She said the company “is saying that the order promulgated by the ERC is in excess of our jurisdiction.”

Ms. Dimalanta said that SMC Global Power, the energy arm of listed conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), is seeking the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO).

“San Miguel is seeking a TRO, so our order will not be implemented and they are asking the CA to reverse our decision,” she said.

She added that the ERC has already escalated the issue to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which serves as the statutory counsel of the energy regulator.

In August, SMC Global Power announced that it sought temporary relief from the ERC to recover part of P15 billion in losses suffered by its units South Premiere Power Corp. (SPPC) and San Miguel Energy Corp. (SMEC), the administrators of the natural gas-fired power plant in Ilijan, Batangas, and the coal power plant in Sual, Pangasinan, respectively.

For partial loss recovery, the units jointly filed along with the buyer and distributor of its electricity, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), a temporary rate increase from the ERC.

They cited a “change in circumstance” when surging fuel costs breached the price range contemplated during the execution of the power supply agreements with Meralco.

The San Miguel group previously said that it would absorb P10 billion of the losses while seeking a rate hike to recover P5 million.

However, in its order dated Sept. 29, the ERC rejected the relief sought, saying there was no basis for it under the power supply deal. The regulator said that the agreement is a fixed-rate contract, thus SPPC and SMEC as suppliers assumed all risks relative to market conditions and economic realities.

SMC Global Power then said it would exhaust all legal remedies but vowed that it would continue supplying power to Meralco.

Meanwhile, Ms. Dimalanta said that to date, SMC Global Power’s supply agreements with Meralco still stand, as the electricity distributor has not advised the regulator on whether the power supplier ended their deal.

“As far as we know, I don’t think there’s any notice. But we are not certain if they have received any. Meralco will be the one to inform us,” Ms. Dimalanta said. — Ashley Erika O. Jose

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