Brownouts, ancillary services and transmission charge

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last February 23, 2017.

bw

Rotational and scheduled brownouts for several hours about once a month, then unscheduled short brownouts from time to time, have become a regular experience in the two provinces of Negros island. Despite the installation of many huge solar plants in recent years.

I am currently in Sagay hospital in Negros Occidental to visit my seriously sick father. Last night, there was brownout for about 10 minutes, the hospital’s generator set immediately takes over to supply electricity to their patients and staff.

The Facebook page of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) gives frequent advisory of power interruption that lasts for nine hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) until this month.

Stories and testimonies of frequent brownouts in many cities and municipalities of Negros Oriental in 2016 are also reported in dumagueteinfo.com.

In June 2016, the Department of Energy (DoE) said that line congestion is building up in Negros Occidental due to many solar power plants operating in the province. The abrupt influx of solar power plants is causing the main line, transmission and interconnection lines to congest (Sun Star Bacolod, June 10, 2016).

This month, Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO) explained that one of the main reasons of higher electricity is the increase in the transmission charge from P1.0538/kWh in January 2017 to P1.1777/kWh in February 2017 or an increase of 0.1239/kWh. The transmission rate hike is due to the increase in the ancillary service charges of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

There are at least two issues here. First is the presence of more brownouts in Negros island despite its having the most number of installed solar power plants per sq. km. of land in the whole country, more than 300 MW.

Solar power is very unstable and intermittent, zero output at night and very low output when it is cloudy, or power fluctuates wildly if clouds come and go in minutes. So there should be more ancillary services or standby power plants, usually natural gas or diesel plants, that should quickly provide power when thick clouds come and when evening comes. Still, this causes power fluctuations that damage machines, engines and appliances running on electricity and the leadership of Negros chamber of commerce and industry have pointed this out to the DoE and NGCP last year.

Second, how is the NGCP regulated and accounted in its transmission charge pricing and assets management?

Power generation is deregulated and hence, the extent of competition among many players is the main regulator of the generation charge. Distribution charge is regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) because distribution utilities (DUs) like Meralco and the roughly 119 electric cooperatives (ECs) nationwide are all monopolies in their respective franchise areas.

So while there are 120+ distribution monopolies composed of private DUs and ECs, the NGCP is a single, national monopoly in power transmission.

There are 12 different charges in our monthly electricity bill. The top six in the table below, and these five charges with lesser rates: (7) universal charge, (8) cross subsidy charge, (9) lifeline rate subsidy, (10) senior citizen subsidy, and (11) feed in tariff allowance (FiT-All). No. (12) are value-added tax (VAT) and other government taxes, these are huge too but not included in the table because they are unrelated to the electricity system.

Of these 12 different charges, subsidies and taxes, the smallest is #10 while the fastest growing is #11, FiT-All: P0.04/kWh in 2015, 0.124/kWh in 2016, and set to rise to P0.23-P0.25/kWh this 2017, the ERC still has to decide on the Transco petition for FiT-All hike (see table).

20170222cf205
Notice in the table above the following: (1) In 2013 vs. 2017, all five charges have declined in rates in 2017 except transmission charge which has remained practically the same at P0.91/kWh. And (2) In 2014 vs. 2015, a similar pattern where all five charges have declined in rates in 2015 except transmission charge which has even increased to nearly P1/kWh.

The possible explanations why the transmission charge by NGCP seems to be the odd man out among the top six charges are (1) rising cost of more ancillary services as more intermittent solar-wind power are added into the grid, (2) it passes its own system loss to the transmission charge, (3) it simply behaves like a typical monopoly, revenue-maximizing as consumers and other players have zero option of other service supplier/s.

20170222be0f6Brownouts and expensive electricity, these are ironic events in our modern world. We should have stable and cheap electricity, no brownouts even for one minute except after heavy storms and typhoons that knock down electrical posts and power lines.

Government should step back in some heavy regulations like forcing intermittent solar-wind into the grid which can discourage some developers who can build stable and cheaper power like coal and natgas plants. And giving high price guaranty for 20 years to renewables like wind-solar is wrong and punishing the consumers. Technology changes very fast, the costs of solar and wind equipment are falling fast, so why lock the high price for 20 years? This is wrong.

On having mandatory RES for contestable electricity consumers

I found this news report a twist — the PCCI, Ateneo, San Beda, RDC question the retail competition and open access (RCOA) provision of EPIRA. I thought people hate monopolies, like Meralco and the roughly 120 other electric cooperatives nationwide. RCOA gives people and large consumers the choice to opt out of those area franchise monopolies.

“The RCOA makes it mandatory for big power consumers to source their electricity supply from licensed RES. Resolution No. 10 adopts the revised rules on what is a “contestable customer” or those who are required to source power from a RES.”

So big, contestable consumers can no longer stay with their DUs, they must find a retail electricity supplier (RES)? This is reverse coercion.

“Meralco asked for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction against ERC Resolution 5, which was issued on March 8, 2016, as well as Resolutions 10 and 11…”
http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy

“ERC has given consumers with an average monthly peak demand of 1 megawatt (MW) more time, or until Feb. 27, 2017, to secure a supply contract with a retail electricity supplier (RES).”http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy

Sabagay, why a deadline? If a big or medium-size consumer cannot find an RES yet, DOE and ERC will penalize it? Can they do that to non-energy players like a hotel, a mall or hospital?

Meanwhile, this is another dictatorial pronouncement by a President. ERC was created by law, by EPIRA of 2001. A President can abolish an agency created by law, not by a Presidential EO? http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy

erc

If an employee is (allegedly) pressured by a boss, there are many remedies and options other than suicide. State of mental health is questionable. Then the President sides with the dead employee, no investigation and just make a “resign all” order. Similar to drugs war, no investigation, just shoot and kill a suspect. http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation

WESM as market-oriented, PEMC as bureaucracy-oriented

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last March 23, 2016.

01

Power generation in the Philippines generally kept up with its ASEAN neighbors in the 1980s up to the early 1990s. By 2000, power capacity in many of our neighbors have doubled or tripled while the Philippines’ has less than doubled. By 2010, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam have kept doubling or tripling their power generation levels in just one decade while the Philippines’ has expanded by only 50%.

The figures for China and South Korea are similar, doubling or tripling power capacity every decade. It is not possible to sustain high economic growth without high and stable electricity supply for households and companies.

2

High power production means high or fast growth in power consumption per capita. Or the reverse, slow power capacity expansion means low consumption per capita, and this is what happened in the Philippines. Until 2000, our per capita consumption was higher than Indonesia and Vietnam, and only one-third that of Thailand. By 2010, things turned around: ours were lower than those in Indonesia and Vietnam and only one-fourth of Thailand. Cambodia is catching up with four times expansion of power capacity in just one decade from 2000 to 2010.

3
Note that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) was enacted in 2001. The law has deregulated and demonopolized power generation where before, Napocor was the single power producer and owner of power transmission nationwide.

So has EPIRA restricted power generation or has the law saved the industry from atrophy? Based on previous columns on the energy sector, various government bureaucracies, local and national, are major contributors to a soured business climate in power generation. Securing nearly 200 different permits and signatures from different agencies over a period of 2-5 years before one can start real power plant construction is no joke.

Power generation companies (gencos) secure bilateral supply contracts with different distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs). DUs and ECs are considered as “utilities” and hence, are described as natural monopolies. Zero competition allowed, they just need to secure a Congressional franchise for 25 years, an arrangement that can be renewed.

Outside the contracted power, gencos have extra capacity to produce and sell. DUs too need extra capacity during peak hours on weekdays, or during the hot months of March to May, during fiesta season in many cities and municipalities, and so on.

For such uncontracted power, both gencos and DUs go to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) to buy and sell electricity. The lead time for spot pricing is not one week or one day but only few hours before electricity supply need to be expanded or curtailed.

WESM is governed and administered by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC). It is a weird body because EPIRA of 2001 says there should be an Independent Market Operator (IMO) that should administer WESM, but PEMC has become a bloated government bureaucracy pretending to be a private bureaucracy.

PEMC Board is a 16-man body chaired by the Department of energy (DoE) Secretary plus 15 Directors: 4 from gencos (2 from government, PSALM and NPC, and 2 private), 4 from DUs (2 from ECs and 2 non-ECs), 4 independent of the power industry, 1 from WESM customers including suppliers, 1 from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) representing the system operator and Transco, and 1 from market operator represented by PEMC itself.

I was able to secure the transcript of three Committee hearings of the Senate Committee on Energy (October and December 2015, and January 2016) headed by Sen. Serge Osmeña, thanks to his staff Vina.

From those transcripts and related readings, I gather these eight questionable or weird things in the PEMC Board and WESM.

First, PEMC is supposed to be an IMO yet there are several government officials sitting on its Board, including the DoE Secretary and representatives from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and the National Power Corporation (NPC). The NGCP is a private corporation but it is representing a government corporation, Transco. Then there are advisers to the Board, two of whom are from government, a DoE Undersecretary and the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

Second, the actual power production of PSALM and NPC are small, almost negligible from the genco mix of Meralco for instance, yet they are almost permanent members of the Board.

Third, those 4 independent directors and the consumer representative (5 total) are all appointed by the DoE Secretary and hence, should be friendly to the government.

Fourth, PEMC is regulated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) which is under the administrative control of the DoE Secretary. So the Secretary heads an agency that is regulated by a government body that is under the Office of the Secretary.

Fifth, all the income of PEMC and WESM is collected from the gencos, especially private gencos, and the private gencos have only two seats. No collection from DUs, from independent Directors, from consumers, from system operator and market operator. The ERC and DoE get a certain percentage from the total WESM revenues.

Sixth, PEMC is pretending to be a private corporation when in reality it is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC). By virtue of its being DoE Secretary-controlled, the presence of several government corporations and agencies in the Board, it is a government-owned bureaucracy pretending to be a private bureaucracy.

Seventh, being a GOCC pretending to be a private corporation, part of its collections or revenues are being used by the DoE and ERC for their respective regulatory and policy formulation functions. PEMC budget is also approved by the ERC, then PEMC should be audited by the Commission on Audit but currently, private auditing firms do the job.

And eighth, gencos pay for all the market fees at WESM and they are subject to price control via primary and secondary price caps. Their peaking plants need to charge higher on those few hours they run to compensate for many hours a day that they are not running and still make a profit, and pay more market fees yet they are restricted from doing this via price control.

So if you are a genco and you are subject to these kinds of policy distortions and bureaucratic interventions at WESM — and paying for all of it — that creates another layer of disincentive to do business.

And that will further put some brakes on an otherwise huge demand for fast and high generation capacity so we can catch up with our neighbors like Vietnam and Indonesia. In this age of ASEAN economic integration, energy-intensive sectors can put up their manufacturing companies in cheaper-energy countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, then export to the Philippines at zero tariff. Also, energy-intensive services like hotels (lights, aircon and elevators running 24/7) and tourism can expand faster in cheaper-energy countries than in expensive-energy countries like the Philippines.

We need less government interventions and distortions in the energy sector. It is among the important prerequisites for the Philippines to grow faster and create more jobs and businesses to the people.

Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the head of Minimal Government Thinkers, a Fellow of the South East Asia Network for Development (SEANET), and a member of the Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia. All three entities support the philosophy of classical liberalism in politics and economics.
minimalgovernment@gmail.com

Electricity rates in the ASEAN, with and without subsidy

* This is my article in BusinessWorld Weekender last August 28, 2015.

1THIS is a continuation of an earlier discussion, “The Philippine electricity market: Monopoly and competition” (Weekender, August 14).

As noted in that article, Carlos Jericho L. Petilla had issued, before he resigned as energy secretary last June, DoE Circular No. DC2015-06-0008, “Mandating All Distribution Utilities to Undergo Competitive Selection Process (CSP) in Securing Power Supply Agreements (PSA).” That order aims to address, among other things, the suspicion of “sweetheart deals” between some big electric cooperatives (ECs) and distribution utilities (DUs), on the one hand, and the generating companies (gencos), on the other, resulting in expensive electricity prices in the Philippines.

Here is another data, a bit old, from a 2013 commissioned study by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The first set shows the actual prices including taxes (in Philippines and Singapore) and subsidies (Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia), and the second set, adjusted prices if taxes and subsidies were minimized, next to zero.

The USAID report explained why the adjustment was done: “Several factors may explain these wide differences. One is tax: effectively 9% in the Philippines, as opposed to 6% in Malaysia and 7% in Singapore and Thailand, albeit 10% in Indonesia. But the bigger contributor to the price differences is the implicit subsidies to state-owned utilities. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that the electricity subsidies in 2011 in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand were at least 5.56, 0.94, and 5.67 billion US dollars, respectively….”

2
Thus, most if not all comparative electricity prices are based on artificial pricing. People blame gencos or the big DUs but not governments which intervene a lot in electricity pricing, resulting in either very high or very low prices.

The DOE Circular was the subject of discussion in a forum organized by the Energy Policy Development Program (EPDP) early this month. There were six speakers, led by OIC-Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada of the Department of Energy (DoE), Director Mylene Capongcol also of the DoE, UP School of Economics professors Raul Fabella and Ruperto Alonzo, UP College of Engineering professor Rowaldo del Mundo, and Romeo Bernardo of LBT Consulting.

3Mr. del Mundo is the lead technical adviser to the Central Luzon Electric Cooperatives Association-First Luzon Aggregation Group (CLECAFLAG) under the USAID COMPETE project. Twelve ECs in Central Luzon aggregated their total power demand of 300 MW, auctioned it off, and contracted for 20 years the winning supplier, won by GN Power (with expanded capacity of 1,200 MW in Bataan). In his presentation, Mr. del Mundo showed this table of comparative electricity prices in the ASEAN.

By pounding on the need for demand aggregation by DUs as shown in the CLECAFLAG experience, Mr. del Mundo concluded, “The mandatory CSP is the only antidote to [the] EPIRA’s [Electric Power Industry Reform Act] cross-ownership that will avoid temptation to parties with conflict of objectives.”

There is a problem in this conclusion of supporting mandatory or obligatory, instead of voluntary, CSP, based on specific circumstances among DUs and gencos. For the following reasons:

One, as shown in Table 1, we have high electricity prices because the government imposes many taxes on energy while other ASEAN countries subsidize their energy consumption.

Two, Mr. Bernardo noted in his presentation that “Growing pains from regulatory uncertainty, and contracting, approval, and construction bottlenecks have delayed new plants. The average time it takes to build a baseload power plant in the Philippines is probably double elsewhere. Just getting approvals, coupled with overcoming NIMBY opponents, is an ordeal.” And he showed this list of some 200 signatures and permits needed to put up one baseload plant.

4
Three, Mr. Fabella suggested market testing of PSA contracts instead of mandatory CSP. Market testing is easier to enforce because the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) only verifies and approves the market test (say, auction) employed, and is easier to defend in public. There are many modalities for market testing like the cases in Chile, Brazil, New England.

Four, there’s the big question of who are the “third parties” that will be recognized by the DoE, the ERC, and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) which will approve or disapprove the PSA between the DUs and gencos. Will they work for free? Very unlikely. Rather, the DOE and ERC will be forced to make extra budgetary requests to pay for these “third parties” including allowances for their meetings and public consultations.

It is also possible that NGOs, the media, and other sectors actively or silently supporting the “Repeal/Abrogate EPIRA” movement may position themselves as “third party” referees. The DoE circular is not about repealing or tinkering with the EPIRA.

In short, the DoE circular is barking at the wrong tree: By making the competitive bidding mandatory rather than voluntary, it will invite or create more problems than what it intends to solve. The circular should therefore be withdrawn. Or amended to make CSP voluntary, not mandatory. The DoE and other government agencies should instead address other problems and contributors to expensive electricity in the country. Like multiple taxes, numerous permits by the Philippine government, from the barangay to city/municipal, provincial, and national government offices and agencies. Requiring a firm to present up to 200 different permits would expose it to 200 different opportunities of corruption and extortion.

Government should simply learn to step back from too much intervention, regulation, and taxation.

Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is president of the free-market think tank Minimal Government Thinkers, Inc., and a fellow of the South East Asia Network for Development (SEANET).

Joint statement on EPIRA implementation, 2014

On May 27, 2014, a Joint Statement from local and foreign chambers of commerce in Manila issued a statement on how to improve EPIRA implementation. Many of their points were practical, some are technical. I fully agree with the statement, “EPIRA is not the problem, failure to implement it properly is.” The call by many populist and left-leaning groups to “Junk EPIRA” or “Amend EPIRA towards greater government role” is wrong.
——

Amending or making changes in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) or the Republic Act No. 9136 will not solve the problems because EPIRA is not the problem, failure to implement it properly is.

If EPIRA is sent back to Congress for review, the uncertainty it will introduce into the regulatory regime of the power industry will lead to a potentially chaotic system, and worryingly put our future needs at risk at a time when our supply of power is marginal.  Brownouts will be inevitable if we don’t build new power plants. International and local investors and financial institutions won’t invest in an industry where the rules are not known and stable. The national government should announce now that EPIRA will not be amended, as amendment will not solve the present problem, and the government should increase dialogue with industry participants to reduce key uncertainties or changing material rules midstream.

For instance, the basis for recent changes in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) prices was unclear. There were also changes in the rules, such as imposing a cap (50%) on the level of output that a Retail Electricity Supplier (RES) can source from its affiliated power generators; and how to count maximum installed generation capacity, which now includes power controlled by RES and results in double counting.  These should not be done without full discussion.

In view of the above, we urge the Department of Energy (DOE) to call a joint stakeholders meeting to address the following issues:

  1. Limits on open access
  2. Fiscal independence of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)
  3. A review of the WESM price cap
  4. What level of power distribution utilities should be required to contract on a

continued basis

  1. How to better monitor and evaluate grid operations
  2. A review of the performance of electric cooperatives and how to improve it
  3. Studying the merits of demand side bidding in WESM and considering revisions to the WESM rules
  4. Making the System Operator and Market Operator independent as a merged group
  5. Deciding on what to do with the Malaya plant.
  6. Privatization of all power plants
  7. Looking for ways to improve bidding for new plants to encourage more participants,and reduce disputes.
  8. Review of the Transmission Development Plan
  9. A review of the taxes on the industry to consolidate them into a simpler system that may lead to lower prices

This meeting should include reviewing the role of each entity involved in the power sector, whether it should retain the responsibilities it now has, whether these should be strengthened, or amended or transferred elsewhere.

Finally, we urge the national government to declare power plants as critical infrastructures or projects eligible for registration with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to streamline acquisition of permits and approvals from all local and national government agencies.

We believe urgent attention to these and other issues is called for and we look forward to working together with government towards an improved power sector.

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham)
Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP)
European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP)
Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX)
Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines, Inc. (JCCIPI)
Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (KCCP)
Management Association of the Philippines (MAP)

————

On slashing the maximum power generation charge

* Originally posted on May 05, 2014.

When there is thin or very small power reserves on peak demand hours of hot months April-May, there are two options. (1) Have rotating brown outs, kill electricity demand for a few hours in some areas; or (2) get expensive power from peak-load plants like diesel barges and avoid brown-outs.

The P32/kwh max rate (usually for 1 or 2 hours, and used to be P62/kwh) allowed in WESM (vs average price of about P5/kwh) looks exorbitant, true. But if it will help avoid a brown out of 1 or 2 hours, it may look less merciless as other people would describe it. So some businessmen are willing to invest in diesel barges that may run only 1 to 3 hours a day (vs. base load plants like coal and nat gas that run 24 hours a day), in exchange for a higher generation charge.

Now there are moves by the ERC and DOE to slash the max rate to only P6.25/kwh.

A power investor will only put his money in base load plants that run 24/7 and selling at P4-7/kwh, not in peak load plants that may run only 1-3 hours a day on hot months, and zero on rainy and cold months, and be allowed by the ERC to charge only P6+/kwh. When there are no or very few peak load plants to address short-term high electricity demand, frequent brown outs on hot months will happen.

1

When there is frequent brown out, people will resort to (a) buying generator sets, which are costly and running on costly diesel, or (b) have more candles and experience more fires. People forgetting to attend to their candles which accidental fell down, burned a piece of paper, ultimtely burning the entire house and the neighboring houses.

Electricity supply should be big relative to demand. Electricity prices should be low due to competition among many power generating companies. This thing is not happening yet. DOE itself is part of the problem why power supply is limited.

Three friends made the following comments when I posted the above discussion in my fb wall.

(1) Bembette: noy, as part of the energy family, we have a directive to turn off our aircon for 3 hours everyday, during the peak hours. there has been a decrease in our energy consumption. adverse effect: aircons bogging down because of the constant turning on and off, which means additional cost for repair/replacement.

(2) Grace: During times of extreme heat or cold here, and the power grid looks like it may be overwhelmed; our power companies ask the we “help” by unplugging any unnecessary electric & electronic devices (cable boxes, clocks, DVD players, etc – you’re not at home using them). That reduces demand some.

(3) Rose: It’s a no win solution for consumers Noy! Grrrr!
(4) Andrew: What about raising prices during peak hours? That would be the Hong Kong solution.

Another adverse result of forced conservation as narrated by Bembette. A government office saves from monthly electricity bill but spends more on appliances maintenance, or replacing them with a new unit.

Grace’s observation is correct, it should be done during period of emergencies and unforeseen events. Either the power plants conk out, or there is power but the transmission lines or distribution lines are cut off due to toppled electrical posts. It is different in predictable or foreseen events, like high electricity demand in the hot months of March-April-May, the last two especially.

And this partless addresses the disappointment of Rose. Consumers can bring down their electricity bill by shifting some of their activities to non-peak hours, say doing electric laundry, ironing, electronic work, at non-peak hours.

Andrew’s proposal is incorporated in the long term direction of the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM), pricing by the hour. Thus, cheaper monthly electricity bill for those who are using more electricity during non-peak hours. Currently, the distribution utilities like the various electric cooperatives nationwide lump the pricing in one average price for the month. Thus, users of electricity during non-peak hours subsidize those who use more electricity during peak hours.

When investors come in to put up new power plants,

“Petilla said more than 100 signatures are required from various government agencies just so an investor cant push through with a project.”

Government is very often, the main cause why there are not enough new power plants in this country. Its bureaucratism, permit-permit-permit, tax-fees-royalties mentality, discourages a number of potential players into power generation.

PH power rate hike in 2013, who colluded?

* Originally posted on February 22, 2014.

In a fb group, Government and Taxes, Freedom and Responsibility, I had a debate with Troy ZD last February 5 this year. He posted this news report from the Inquirer, http://business.inquirer.net/163008/meralco-admits-telling-therma-mobile-to-sell-at-p62kwh-at-spot-market#ixzz2sPIrwxBR

1

and commented that

 If this and other admissions by Meralco, the ERC etc are not an evidence of collusion that would make the SC strike down the price increase and to force the re-evaluation of EPIRA and particularly the WESM then the SC has sold us out.

I replied that an electricity distribution utility (DU) like Meralco, Batangas Electric Coop, Cagayan Electric Coop, etc., distributes electricity from two sources: (a) from bilateral contracts for its basic, non-peak electricity demand, and (b) from WESM or spot market for its peak demand period (say 5-7am, 6-8pm). In the case of Meralco-TMO bilateral contract, the contract price was P6.20/kwh in Oct 2013 and P8.65/kwh in Nov. 2013. See Table 3, Government and Taxes: Fat Free Econ 51: Ten Things About the Meralco Rate Hike
Of the 286 GWH that Meralco bought from WESM in Nov. 2013, it is not clear how much of it came from TMO at P62/kwh, how much from other diesel power plants at P25 or P40 or 50 or 62. I have not seen the numbers yet.

It is possible that Meralco told TMO and other diesel plants to bid at P62 so that not a single DU, Meralco included, would buy at that max price so that the clearing price would be at a lower amount.

The term “collusion” has been over-used and may be even abused. Who colluded? Meralco and TMO? Meralco and who else? At what volume (in GWH) at what price and when did the collusion happen?

Could it be that a DU bought from a generating company (GenCo) at the max bid price of P62/kwh but only for 2 or 3 GWH volume? If this is the case, can this still be considered as collusion considering the very small volume of electricity involved?

I will be very glad to see explicit answers from those who endlessly suggest there was collusion, like Troy, Bayan Muna, other groups and individuals.

The average clearing price for November 2013 at WESM was P33.22/kwh. Answer the 4 questions above.
1. Who colluded?
2. At what volume (in GWH),
3. At what price the collusion happened?
4. At what days and hours the collusion happened?

Troy replied that it’s what they are trying to find out in the senate and in the SC

Can you beat that? People have been using that term “collusion” since 3 months ago, and until now there is zero proof of collusion? Puro allegation and ngaw ngaw lang? Hoping that endless allegation becomes an accepted “truth”?

If people are honest, they should shut their mouth from endless accusations because they have zero proof. If they are dishonest, they will retain the accusation even if proof is zero.

Troy posted this  quote, no source given:

the assertions from both Meralco and TMO that only 100 MW of capacity have been provided are quite odd. At the beginning of June, Aboitiz Power announced it had completed the rehabilitation of the four power barges, and that they were fully operational at their 242-MW rating. Even as early as September, 2012 TMO informed the ERC that rehabilitation of two of the units had been completed. The claim that only 100 MW has been provided so far (100 MW is, coincidentally, roughly the effective net capacity of the two smallest barges, rated at 57 MW and 52 MW, respectively) begs the question whether the TMO facility may have been another of those supposedly “unplanned” plant outages that forced Meralco to buy higher-priced power from the spot market.

Malaya 1 has been on technical shutdown since July 2013. Even if one DU will beg at P100 or P200/kwh, that plant will never be able to produce electricity. Malaya 2 has been on scheduled maintenance shutdown since late October 2013. See chart 4, http://funwithgovernment.blogspot.com/…/fat-free-econ…
And even assuming that NPC or PSALM (whoever operates Malaya power plant) could produce magic last November and make it run, its generation cost that will be passed to consumers would be something that will make the activists curse and howl. It is an inefficient, costly government power plant that can save us more money if it is not running than it is operating.

So people really point at Meralco-TMO collusion, somehow question #1 is answered, fine. Questions 2 to 4 must be answered to substantiate that there was indeed Meralco-TMO collusion.

People were so hooked on their conspiracy theory. Even if a power plant is 100% incapable of producing electricity, they will say that there is magic somewhere (by Batman? Superman? Spiderman?…) to make it run and save us from the Meralco-TMO-other GenCos collusion conspiracy theory.

I think this is a good explanation why a DU like Meralco with an existing contract to a GenCo like TMO told the latter to bid at the max rate of P62/kwh — because it does not intend to buy significant volume at that price on non-peak hours. It turnedout that Meralco did buy from TMO at P62 — at a monster volume of 0.5 kwh! Total purchase of Meralco from WESM in Nov 2013 was 286,000,000 kwh, 0.5 kwh of which was purchased at a “collusion” price of P62/kwh. Nice joke on collusion.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/80150/power-rate-hike–justices-say-root-of-problem-lies-with-must-offer-rule-regulators

2There are at least two lessons here. (1) Remove the “must offer” rule for all GenCos. If they do not want to be dispatched at particular hours because its power supply is already fully contracted, or it wants to do emergency repair on a minor mechanical problem that can become a big problem if not acted upon, then ERC should not compel them to offer.

Or (2) Retain the “must offer” rule but remove the P62/kwh max bid price. Make it indefinite. So that a GenCo that does not want to be dispatched for a particular hour can price its power at P1,000/kwh or P5,000 or higher, precisely so that NO ONE will buy from it.

People will always think the problem is with electricity distribution and the monopoly DUs, when the clear problem facing them is the lack of power generation.

Government is a major contributor to high electricity prices in this country. Aside from VAT and other taxes, it also slaps various mandatory fees under “universal charges.”

Malaya power plant can greatly help in this power rate hike debate if it is privatized soon, two benefits: (a) money from privatization proceeds be used to pay back some of the stranded cost so that universal charges will decline. And (b) private operator can make it run more efficiently, more frequently, add to more power supply, while paying taxes to the government. A seldom-operating, government-owned Malaya plant is a costly elephant that adds to more costs than benefits to electricity consumers.