The public may end up paying higher electricity rates if the Senate and the House of Representatives fail to thresh out contentious provisions of a joint resolution on addressing expected power outages in the summer months of April and May.
The scenario loomed because the two chambers are yet to agree on emergency or special powers to be granted to President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Such powers would allow the President to pay private companies P450 million if they used their power generators for their own power supply during the summer months to ease demand on the national grid under the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).
The House version of the joint resolution wants the government to compensate the ILP participants while the Senate version pitched mainly by Sen. Sergio Osmeña 3rd passes off the burden to consumers.
“We are yet to agree on it. The most contentious provision is the pass-on provision under the Senate version and the government assuming the cost thru the Malampaya Fund in our version as a subsidy/incentive. Our endgame remains that there should not be additional cost for the public,” House energy panel chaiman Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro said during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum on Tuesday.
The existing Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) provides that it is the consumers who will pay the ILP participants. .
The Senate opposes charging the government for the ILP dues because that would amount to amending the Epira and discouraging investors to do business in the country.
At least 400 participants that would contribute at least 750 megawatts have signed up for the ILP.
Another hurdle in the grant of emergency powers is the Senate’s intention to give them to the President only until June 2016.
Under the House version, the emergency powers will cover only five months–March to July–this year since the Energy department has confirmed that many power plants will go online by the third quarter of the year.
Meanwhile, the bicameral conference committee waits for more relevant data from industry players before giving the emergency powers long sought by Malacañang.