Only big power users can choose suppliers

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DESPITE calls by industry players to spur competition, the lowering of the threshold for retail competition and open access hangs. Francis Saturnino Juan, executive director of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said there is no decision yet on lowering the threshold from one megawatt to 750 kilowatt-hours.

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The retail competition and open access currently allows only power users with 1 MW average demand to choose their own suppliers. The retail electricity suppliers are accredited suppliers who can participate in the retail competition and open access regime.

“ERC is assessing the performance of the market. There is no decision yet on the lowering of the threshold because there are still issues that need to be resolved such as the retail electricity suppliers license guidelines,” he told reporters.

Granting of retail electricity suppliers license has been suspended to enable ERC to check on the financial standing of applicants.

“We want to impose additional conditions for suppliers license.,” Juan said.

According to Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, the threshold level for retail competition and open access shall be lowered to users of 750 kWh per month from those consuming one megawatt and above per month starting December.

The lowering of the threshold, Petilla pointed out, is stipulated in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 and is expected to “generate more investor interest” in the power sector.

The EPIRA mandates that the threshold for open access can be lowered to 750 kW from 1 MW two years upon implementation. Open access was implemented in December 2013.

Aboitiz Power Corp. and Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp. have been urging government to fast-track the lower threshold for retail competition and open access to bring in more private sector interest.

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