SC orders gov't to explain power rate hike

Posted at 01/09/14 11:03 AM


Power suppliers to be included in petition

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE)-The Supreme Court has denied the petition of the Office of the Solicitor General to be excused from defending the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission in the petition assailing the legality and constitutionality Meralco rate hike.

The high court ordered the OSG to defend the position of the ERC and DOE. This comes after the OSG had earlier asked the SC to let Meralco, the private respondent in the case, defend the controversial staggered rate hike.

In the same order, the high court also ordered the petitioners to amend their petition to include the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) and several power suppliers, SEM-Calaca Power Corp., Masinloc Power Partners Corp., Therma Luzon Inc., San Miguel Energy Corp., South Premier Power Corp. and Therma Mobile Inc. as "necessary parties".

In a where as order issued by SC en banc clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal by authority of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the high court said, "The motion by the office of the solicitor general is denied. Accordingly public respondents through the OSG are required to file and serve comment on the petitions on or before January 17, 2014 by personal service and attend the initial preliminary conference on January 13, 2014."

The court noted the petitioners alleged that ERC maybe in collusion with vested oil interests in their "profiteering activities" but failed to implead the power producers as necessary parties "for complete determination or settlement of the claim subject of the action."

The court pointed out that the petitioners alleged that :"a very high ceiling price was revealed at P62/kwh sold at the wholesale electricity spot market, while normally the price is way below this on the average in the pot market" but failed to implead the PEMC which governs the WESM.

Public records, the SC said, have shown that the power generators supplied Meralco with electricity during November 2013, when generation costs increased.

The order is part of deliberations on the consolidated petitions assailing the recent electricity rate increase implemented by Meralco filed by progressive lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc and the National Association of Electricity Consumers, Federation of Village Associations, Federation of Las Pinas Homeowners Association and Rodrigo Domingo Jr.

The Supreme Court stopped the increase of about P4 per kilowatt hour, shortly before Christmas. The high court's order is valid for 60 days from issuance while the court deliberates the case.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna, one of the petitioners in the case, welcomed the ruling.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the Supreme Court was right in including power generation companies.

"Tama ang ginawa ng Supreme Court against the power generation companies dahil sila ang puno't dulo nito. We will immediately comply with the SC order and implead these power generators. We will also pray for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against these generation companies from exacting and collecting their incredibly high generation charge to stop them from threatening the public with interest payments for these charges," he said.