THE power industry law needs to be amended to allow the government to play a role in power auctions, a senior legislator said.

“There is a lot of fine tuning that we need for EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001); for example, the government should be allowed to hold a bidding process. As of now, under the CSP (Competitive Selection Process) regime, it’s Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) that seeks bids. The government should be allowed to hold a bid as well,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian told reporters on Friday. 

The Department of Energy (DoE) requires all distribution utilities to procure power via a CSP, attracting bids to supply electricity from power generators.

EPIRA sought to restructure the power industry by deregulation and privatizing most state-owned power generation and transmission assets.

Mr. Gatchalian said his proposal will ensure fair auctions.

“My proposal is that the government should facilitate the bidding process, whether via electronic bids or physical, to ensure that it is fair,” he said.

Mr. Gatchalian said that this approach would reduce the likelihood of power outages because the government can determine the supply requirement.

“We need new legislation for this; in effect, that is an amendment to EPIRA. In other countries, the government is not completely hands off in the power sector,” he added.

Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said at a Senate Committee on Finance hearing on Friday that power supply is expected to be tight in the first quarter of 2023.

“The first quarter of next year will be difficult; we need every source of power to bridge that period,” Mr. Lotilla said.

Mr. Lotilla said that the DoE is working to secure resources as well as ramping up the delivery of stranded power.

“Solar plants will also be coming in towards the first quarter. So that would help address this,” Mr. Lotilla said.

National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) President Anthony L. Almeda has said that NGCP is in discussions with DoE to assure a sufficient energy supply.

Pedro H. Maniego, Jr., senior policy advisor of the Manila-based climate and energy policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities said in a tweet on Saturday that to reduce overdependence on imported fuel, the Philippines should ramp up the transition to renewable energy.

“That is why we must speed up the energy transition to distributed generation anchored on indigenous sources,” he said. — Ashley Erika O. Jose