Once again in the headlines is Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla with his latest pathetic act. He now blames the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM ) and some unidentified generation companies which he seems to be afraid to mention for the record-high power rate hike last December 2013.
Petilla accuses PSALM , etc. for violating Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) rules and in effect, engaging in anti-competitive behavior, namely, the real time dispatch ( RTD ) and the must-offer rule (MOR ) by not submitting offers or not complying with dispatch schedules, thus withholding generation capacities. He zeroed in on the 650 megawatt Malaya Thermal Power Plant, an outdated and poorly maintained power plant controlled by PSALM.
But look who’s talking ? Secretary Petilla is vice-chair of PSALM.
Its Chair is Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and the board members include Secretaries Florencio Abad, Arsenio Balisacan, Leila de Lima and Gregory Domingo.
And is Secretary Petilla not the Chair of the Philippine Electric Market Corporation ( PEMC ), the parent corporation of WESM where high electricity rates are bidded and priced? Where is accountability in all this?
In his frantic search for whoever and whatever can be blamed for the record-high power rate price increase, Secretary Petilla points selectively to a few termites which inadvertently include him and his fellow Cabinet members. He absolves MERALCO which until now dodges the questions as to why it bid its 100 MW contracted supply from Aboitiz’ Therma Mobile at the maximum price in WESM at a time when it was claiming a power supply problem and why it does not have a power replacement provision in its Power Supply Agreement with its generation suppliers in the event of scheduled and f orced shutdowns and outages.
Moreover, Petilla until now denies despite the so-many revelations about WESM that it is a contrived market, that three or so major players control its offers market and that there is really no demand side that may come from a full blown open and retail access that cannot happen unless distribution monopolies are dismantled like that of MERALCO.
There are many other termites. But that is not all there is in this set-up. It is the whole house—EPIRA—the privatized power industry—that is rotten.