THE Supreme Court has issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining the Regional Trial Court Branch 157 of Pasig City from continuing the proceedings in a petition filed by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) against full implementation of the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) provision of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi welcomed the TRO issuance, adding that the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) scored a victory through this because they would now be able to proceed with the full implementation of RCOA.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on Friday, Meralco said it received a copy of the SC resolution dated 10 October 2016 issuing a TRO enjoining the company, RTC Branch 157 of Pasig City, their representatives, agents or other persons acting on their behalf from continuing the proceedings in Special Civil Action No. 4149-PSG and from enforcing all orders, resolutions and decisions rendered in the said civil action.
Meralco had earlier secured court approval for its request to stop new rules on the RCOA until certain issues are ironed out. These rules were issued through DOE Circular No. DC2015-06-0010, released on 19 June 2015, which Meralco petitioned to be nullified and the DOE and ERC enjoined from implementing.
Under DC2015-06-0010, electricity end-users with a monthly average peak demand of at least 1 (megawatt) MW for the preceding 12 months will be the Contestable Market upon initial implementation of the RCOA.
Two years afterwards, the threshold level for the Contestable Market will be reduced to 750 kilowatts (kW). Subsequently, the ERC is required to evaluate the performance of the electricity market and gradually reduce the threshold level until it reaches household demand level.
“The DOE and the ERC are pushing for reforms to implement the provisions that give the consumers the power of choice. But some distribution utilities are preventing it,” Cusi said.
“The Supreme Court saw the need to uphold the role of the DOE – ERC in giving consumers the power of choice,” he said.
“With the RCOA in place, ‘Contestable Customers’ or those consuming 1 MW of electricity are now able to choose their power supplier/s to reduce their costs. In the previous setup, electricity customers were captured by the distribution utilities within their franchise area and were forced to pay the contracted supply of their respective distribution utilities,” Cusi explained.
“Currently, the DOE is undergoing the preparatory stage to include consumers consuming 750 kilowatts as Contestable Customers,” he added.