THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has enlisted the services of consulting firm Reyes Tacondong & Co. to audit the electric cooperatives (ECs) on the use of funds for their capital expenditures, in a bid to complement the commission’s evaluation efforts, the regulator said on Wednesday.

In a press release, the ERC said that it has decided to get a third party to audit the ECs to see if they are using their reinvestment fund for sustainable capital expenditures (RFSC) in line with the commission’s rules.

“The bidding process has been completed and the contract has been awarded to the winning bidder,” ERC Chairperson and CEO Agnes VST Devanadera said of Reyes Tacondong & Co. The commission said that it awarded the contract to the chosen consultant because it submitted the highest rated and responsive bid.

EC’s are authorized to collect from member-consumers the funds, which would go to their reinvestment fund. The fund is meant for amortization or debt service of the ECs in the expansion, rehabilitation, or upgrading of their power systems.

“We are duty-bound to promote and protect the consumers’ interest and the impending audit of the ECs’ Reinvestment Fund for Sustainable Capital Expenditures or RFSC will establish whether the ECs’ collection and disbursements thereof indeed benefited the consumers,” Ms. Devanadera said.

Data from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) showed that 109 ECs were able to sustain their positive financial operations before raising reinvestment funds during the fourth quarter of 2019. Also, 109 ECs were able to sustain their positive net worth.

“These two parameters indicate that most of the ECs are financially healthy,” the NEA said in its compliance report on the performance of ECs in the fourth quarter.

On Jan. 8, the ERC announced that it had tapped into a consultant to verify if utility giant Manila Electric Co. returned its reported refunds to its customers. In a previous press release, the commission said that it had awarded the contract to Roxas Cruz Tagle and Co. — Angelica Y. Yang