Allegations of “collusion” between power-generating firms amid the series of power outages in the Luzon grid came to light as their operations coincidentally stopped these past few weeks, according to Department of Energy (DoE).
The Senate Committee on Energy said the DoE and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should conduct a proper investigation on whether these energy firms have really colluded over the “unplanned or forced outages.”
“I think we should impose heavier penalties as a policymaker because a lot of people are affected,” a senator said during the hearing.
Since 20 March, SLTEC (South Luzon Thermal Energy Corporation) halted its operation due to a leak in its boiler tubes.
Meanwhile, Pagbilao plant, a joint venture of TeaM Energy and Aboitiz, ceased operations on 02 April due to a slagging boiler. The company explained its operation was estimated to be back on track on 17 April.
The Senate Committee took to task the DoE and ERC after discovering that no fines and penalties were imposed for power firms that failed to meet their committed capacity.
“I just want to urge the department and the regulator to look at this concept of disincentivizing delays, forced and unplanned outages,” the senator added.
The Senate Energy Committee, on the other hand, was firm and steady that consumers who experienced outages should not be shouldering higher electricity costs since it was the energy firms’ fault.
“So why should consumers be penalized when there are forced and unplanned outages?” a senator asked.
DoE and Philippine Competition Commission (PPC) officials assured the public it would be taking appropriate measures to address these issues by coordinating with the concerned government agencies.
“We welcome all the facts that were being given to us by the industry players. But the issue on these matters, collusion and anti-competitive behavior, we will submit all this information to the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Philippine Competition Commission and even in Congress,” Felix William ‘Wimpy’ Fuentebella, DoE Undersecretary said.