THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it will allow the collection of P22.64 billion worth of power generation cost starting next year.

“We will issue an order because IEMOP (Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines) needs the authority to collect. This will be collected from the consumers, but not all gencos (generation companies) have claims,” ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Monalisa C. Dimalanta told reporters.

Ms. Dimalanta said the Commission is planning to defer the collection of P22.64 billion over the next three years starting in 2024.

She said that the Commission has computed the rates to be collected. She declined to speak in detail about the rates, but added that the payments will be too high if collected over one or two years.

Last year, the Supreme Court (SC) annulled an order issued by the ERC. The order had voided the November to December 2013 Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) prices, imposed regulated prices and required the Philippine Electricity Market Corp., the operator of WESM at that time, to calculate and issue bill adjustments using recalculated prices.

However, in the same decision the SC upheld an ERC order approving the request of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to stagger the collection of automatic adjustments from generation costs for November 2013.

During the period, Meralco sourced its supply from WESM following the maintenance shutdown of Malampaya gas field.

The ERC said last year that it is looking to at least move the recovery towards the second half of this year.

Ms. Dimalanta said that the timing of the collection needs to be studied, considering the onset of El Niño.

The Department of Energy has said that El Niño could result in the reduced output of hydropower plants, and raise demand for power due to warmer temperatures, which in turn could lead to higher power rates. — Ashley Erika O. Jose