Petilla pushes for 750-kw threshold on open access electricity by year-end

By Juzel L. Danganan

MANILA, Feb. 25 (PNA) — Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla is pushing for the lower threshold of retail and competitive open access (RCOA) electricity by year-end, which will allow those with daily usage of 750-kilowatts (kW) to choose their electricity supplier.

”We came to an agreement, we will try to hit mandatory RCOA by the end of the year. At (the level of) 750-kw,” Petilla told reporters.

Currently, contestable customers, such as firms, buildings and establishments, are only allowed to choose their supplier if they have a consistent usage of one megawatt (MW) in a year.

On the other hand, captive customers have less than the 1-MW consumption, voiding them to have seven ways in choosing their supplier. Thus, they have no other option than to source power through the local distribution utility.

Petilla said there were problems on the present implementation of RCOA at one MW — which amount to 1,300 MW of contestable customers but still fall under captive customers — due to the lack of suppliers.

”Take note, the reason they are still captive is because there’s no supplier. So they’ll be like that, I’m right here an optional customer. They won’t be contestable if they’re not mandatory,” he said.

Petilla said that the temporary solution to the lack of power suppliers would be covered by allowing the contestable consumers to have power-supply agreements (PSAs) with plants that were currently being built.

”If they make it mandatory, (but) there’s no supplier, my suggestion to ERC it will be mandatory. If there’s no supplier, as long as you sign up with a plant that will be built, you have a PSA and filed it with ERC, you’ve complied with (it) already,” he said.

Also, the energy secretary plans to negotiate with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to allow power plants to be part of the Retail Electricity Suppliers (RES), allowing them to be a broker and a supplier at the same time.

However, Petilla said he wanted related cases to be withdrawn first, before the negotiations.

”I’m confident that I can sway it that distribution utilities and power plants can own the RES. But remove the case, there’s no point in talking if you have a case. ERC will say let the courts decide,” he said.

The DOE head said this move aimed to ensure that power plants would continue to be built.

”What we are trying to do here is the policy, we’re not trying to squeeze everybody, we are just making sure that plants will be built. Because right now, we are leaving it to them, they’re on their own,” he said.

According to Petilla, the advanced PSA’s will ensure there will be no lack in contracts, eventually resulting in widespread aggregation of power supply.

”Then, if there’s a problem, it’s the fault of the DOE, because of the lack of their contracts. Then if that’s the case, I’ll demand to aggregate it,” he said.

If passed, this will be the second implementation of RCOA, after its first commercial implementation at 1-MW were set during Petilla’s tenure on June 26, 2013.

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), which also paved the way for RCOA, mandates the lowering of the limit level two years after the implementation of the 1-MW. (PNA)