The following is a press statement I issued today in my capacity as convenor of the People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates (POWER).
The Energy Regulatory Commission’s order voiding last year’s Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) prices is a vindication to consumers and consumer rights groups who exposed and protested the collusion and manipulation done by industry players to jack up power rates in the country.
However, it falls short in identifying the guilty parties and how they should be held accountable.
The much-awaited ERC order, in effect, confirms charges of market abuse and voids the WESM prices used by Meralco to justify the highest power rate hike in history.
In its ruling, the ERC ordered the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), which operates WESM, to recalculate the spot market prices from Oct. 26 to Dec. 25, 2013. It said prices should have been at least 70% lower.
The ERC also said that industry players created a “contrived supply shortage” which resulted in “market failure.”
In effect, the ERC vindicates our position that Meralco and other industry players played around with WESM to jack up prices and take advantage of their consumers. The next step is to hold the power oligopoly accountable for their abuse of market power and then institute measures to prevent this in the future.
The ERC should immediately junk Meralco’s petition for a P5.33 increase for January and ask the company to refund the P4.15 increase it charged customers last December.
Lastly, POWER reiterates its call for the amendment or repeal of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the law that created WESM. EPIRA has failed yet again. It’s time to change it.#