Congress to probe any spike in power rate bills of consumers

By , on March 6, 2015

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MANILA  — Senior Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares on Thursday cautioned the Department of Energy (DOE) for allowing power plants (Gencos) to jack up the price of electricity by shutting down as he expressed support to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte’s call on the DOE and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to investigate possible artificial supply shortage resulting from sudden shutdowns of plants.

Colmenares said EPIRA allowed electricity prices to go up if the energy supply is low as a result of plant shutdowns. This only allowed Gencos to earn super profits by shutting down their plant to create an artificial supply shortage.

“The supposed shortage is a phantom shortage meant to scare the public to pay for high electricity rates. While other countries predict shortages by calculating lost energy supply resulting from ‘planned shutdowns’ and ‘unplanned forced shutdowns’, he said.

The veteran lawmaker cited DOE figures[1] that show there is no lack of supply.

“DOE data shows that, calculating the planned and unplanned shutdowns, the most critical period is April 4-10, 2015 when the surplus supply is only 310 MW. Even then, however, there is a surpus of 310 MW, so how can there be brownouts ? he asked.

According to Colmenares, it turns out that this emergency powers means an increase in electricity cost to the public. Higher electricity rates to the consumers is a no-no especially if there is no genuine supply shortage.

“I support the Speaker Belmonte’s call for the DOE and ERC to disallow ‘any artificial shortage caused by the deliberate withholding of supply just to jack up prices’. I agree with the Speaker that we should not allow increased electricity rates to be passed on to consumers.” Colmenares said.

“We should warn energy players that Congress will subpoena DOE, ERC and the power plants to a series of congressional investigation if electricity rates are jacked up because of sudden plant shutdowns.” he said.