THE ENERGY Regulatory Commission (ERC) has formally withdrawn a moratorium on issuing licenses to retail energy suppliers (RES), paving the way for more eligible power users with monthly consumption of 750 kilowatts (kW), known as contestable consumers, to sign up with the power providers of their choice.

In a memorandum dated Nov. 17, the ERC revoked the moratorium and announced a consultation process involving the RES industry and other stakeholders to improve the design of the competitive retail electricity market.

The moratorium dates to 2014. The Supreme Court then issued a temporary restraining order against the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) program in 2017 because it was mandatory for power users beyond a certain threshold.

The Department of Energy (DoE) later made consumer participation voluntary.

In March 2021, the Supreme Court ruled with finality that the license moratorium had no legal basis.

Asked to comment, consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer, Inc. (LKI) said having more retail energy suppliers improves competition and can help businesses signing up for RCOA save on energy costs.

“We call on the (ERC) to strictly follow the letter and spirit of the Anti-Red Tape Act and process RES license applications expeditiously and efficiently,” LKI President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba told BusinessWorld in a Viber message.

The Retail Electricity Suppliers Association (RESA) said in an e-mail that it “applauds the ERC in its (responsiveness to) the needs of the industry.”

RESA counts among its 34 members major companies such as Aboitiz Energy Solutions, Inc. and AC Energy Corp. — Marielle C. Lucenio