DoE to Modify Circular on Power Investments; in Response to Clamor of Distribution Utilities

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Byline: MYRNA M. VELASCO

The Department of Energy (DoE) has reportedly agreed in principle to work at some modifications on a Circular it issued last year aimed at ensuring new investments to build up future power capacity.

A source from the energy department, however, refused to divulge what particular provisions would be amended in the Circular.

It would be noted that private distribution utilities have posed staunched opposition to this policy; as the State unilaterally transfers to them the sole responsibility to lure new power investments. The latest to join the fray was the countrys largest utility firm, Manila Electric Company.

Such precept has been branded iniquitous; since decision on investments by private companies would depend largely on how the State would ensure that "viable market policies" are established.

The Philippine Electric Plant Owners Association (PEPOA) was the first group to challenge the implementation of the Circular; pointing out that such manifests the governments passing the buck attitude on matters of ensuring reliable power supply.

It was opined that if the government cannot attract new power investments to avert an almost inevitable another round of power crisis, it would be unfair to pass the blame on the utilities; as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) never prescribed that it is their full responsibility to sustain supply reliability.

The utilities emphasized that it was clear in the intent and spirit of the law that "ensuring the supply of electric power is part of the mandate of the State, through the DoE (Department of Energy), which the State or the DoE should not pass on to the DUs."

The energy department has sounded off earlier that since it can no longer contract new capacities; the burden of cornering new investments has already been transferred to the private sector. …