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Consumer group calls for price transparency during power alerts

A CONSUMER group has called on the electricity spot market to ensure transparency of prices in order to avoid collusion among power generation companies during times when the grid system operator declares “yellow” or “red” alerts.

In a statement, Laban Konsyumer, Inc. (LKI) President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba has “demanded” disclosure and transparency from the market operator by publishing the settlement prices when reserved power thins after an unscheduled power plant outage.

“It is the duty of the market operator at all times to ensure competitive market behavior among spot market participants especially in periods of tight supply and to police the spot market participants against taking advantage of the tight supply on collusion in the spot market prices,” he said.

Mr. Dimagiba said consumers need to be “informed and empowered and that is why there must be transparency.”

The Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) is operated by the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, Inc. (IEMOP) after it took over the function from the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. in September.

IEMOP is a nonstock, nonprofit corporation governed by a professional board of directors composed of individuals not affiliated with any of the electric companies that trade in the WESM.

Mr. Dimagiba pointed to the yellow alert warnings issued last week when power plants went on unplanned outages. Grid system operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) issues the warnings.

He said in the past, the spot market had been the subject of an investigation on anti-competitive practices and spot price manipulation.

Separately, Rogelio L. Singson, Meralco Powergen Corp. (MGen) president and chief executive officer, said electricity consumers suffer during these incidents.

“The consumer is on the losing end. Of course, Meralco will be obliged to buy at the spot market because supply is deficient,” he said.

“I think in fairness to DoE (Department of Energy), they’re assessing,” he said. Mr. Singson said the supply deficiency warnings highlight the need to proceed with the construction of new power plants.

He was referring to MGen’s delayed power plant project in Atimonan, Quezon province after its power supply agreement (PSA) was questioned by some sectors. The case is pending at the Supreme Court. — Victor V. Saulon