‘Power users in heart of operations’ assures ERC as NGCP blames them

PANGLAO, Bohol March 30 (PIA) –There is nothing that the Energy Regulatory Commission is doing that is illegal, in fact it is within their mandate to assure the power consumers that they are in the heart of the Commission’s operations.

This is how Boholano by blood and ERC Commissioner Marko Romeo Fuentes placed the context in the recent power outages which happened in Bohol and other power service areas.

Last week, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) faulted the ERC and its denial to their request for interim ancillary services agreements, which eventually caused intermittent power interruptions.

Commissioner Fuentes, who traces his roots from Getafe, Bohol, in an interview explained that the NGCP has requested month on month extensions on its ancillary services agreements, while the competitive selection process is being undertaken.

In a press material, NGCP alleged that the ERC’s refusal came after NGCP concluded the acceptance and opening of bids for Ancillary Services (AS) on 14, 15, and 16 March 2023 for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, respectively.

The opening of AS bids also means evaluating and formally awarding contracts, but this takes time.

With NGCPs timeline of awarding winning bids not later than 18 April 2023, it needs to stable and reliable power supply and grid security, which can be provided by extending expired ancillary services contracts.

The NGCP’s Ancillary Services Procurement Agreements (ASPA) are support services necessary to sustain the transmission capacity and energy that are essential in maintaining the power quality, reliability, and security of the grid.

AS primary function is to maintain the systems load-generation balance as provided by qualified generating plants and procured and managed by the System Operator.

These are necessary for NGCP to manage power fluctuations to ensure quality and reliability of power flowing through its system.

As the past year’s ASPA expired, the NGCP now opened the CSP for the ancillary services requirement which would be subjected to the approval of the ERC.

With the regulatory processes that applications of this nature need to undergo, a provisional approval for the new ASPAs resulting from the AS CSP may not be expected earlier than June 2023, according to the NGCP.

Without an existing ASPA, NGCP cannot nominate power plants to provide the critical services,” explained NGCP, in its press release.

But for the ERC, Commissioner Fuentes said everything they are doing is in line with the law creating the ERC and unless amendments are introduced in the law, then all they can, is do its regulatory functions based on their charters.

While the commissioner did not mention it, a month-on-month extension of existing AC agreements may end up disadvantageous to power consumers who will tend to pay for pass on charges.

Comm. Fuentes, who said he can only speak for myself and not for the Commission, hinted that it would take formal procedures for them to act on certain measures, and in fact, the CSP has been an innovation the commission is implementing.

As the NGCP claimed they have conducted AS procurement with good faith, with the best services for the least cost as a primary motivating factor, improving the procurement process and able to provide services, they are disappointed with the development.

If we sign interim extensions, we expect the ERC to issue us yet another show cause order. If we do not, we will be unnecessarily subjecting consumers connected to the grid to avoidable and damaging fluctuations or worse, interruptions,” explained NGCP.

Commissioner Fuentes attended the Congress and Consultative Conference of the Philippine Association of Institutional Department managers at the Bellevue Conference Hall, which tackled on strengthening electric cooperatives’ competitive advantage in a challenging environment.

He stressed on their regulatory initiatives to establish core programs in energy democracy rooted in the consumers’ power of choice, under the EPIRA law.

The CSP, micro grids promotion, net metering, green energy auction plan, retail competition and retail aggregation, green energy option and distributed energy resource are ERC’s priorities. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

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