ERC Vows to Slap Penalties on WESM Price-Fixing Offenders

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Byline: MYRNA M. VELASCO

Should investigation proves beyond reasonable doubt that any of the trading teams of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) arbitrarily initiated acts to manipulate prices at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) declared that those found responsible shall be slapped with penalties.

"If anti-competitive behavior is established and duly reported to the ERC, appropriate remedies such as directives to fix or control the price will be issued and the appropriate penalties imposed, after observance of the requirements of due process," said ERC Commissioner and Officer-in-Charge Alejandro Z. Barin.

He added that the regulatory body is still awaiting any submissions to be made by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) in the investigation it is undertaking, which is planned for completion within 45 days.

"The ERC will evaluate and validate PEMC's report according to set procedures," Barin explained.

The PEMC was prompted to probe alleged pricefixing that may have been instigated by PSALM on the electricity spot market's third month of operation, covering the August 26 to September 25 billing cycle; after dramatic spikes in load weighted average price of traded volumes were noted.

While some parties are quick to point out that the market gouging may have transpired because of lax regulatory approach of the ERC, Barin noted that such allegation is unfounded because policies to be undertaken are clearly set out under the promulgated Competition Rules and Complaint Procedures. …