THE Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) has given entities in the power sector more time to pay their bills as it announced on Friday a due date of up to 30 days from the end of the Luzon-wide lockdown period on April 14.

Those covered by the deferred payment are distribution utilities, independent power producer (IPP) administrators and collecting agencies of the universal charge (UC).

The move is done in compliance with the advisories earlier posted by the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission, both of which called for the deferment of payments within the energy sector to ensure the unhampered supply of electricity during the enhanced community quarantine from March 15 to April 14 amid the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The state-owned firm tasked to privatize the government’s power assets said the extension of payments is done without imposing any interest and penalties.

Yet, it noted that billings falling before March 15 should follow the corresponding due dates, otherwise, a failure to pay will be met with interest and penalties.

PSALM said that it would not allow the suspension or lowering of the minimum energy off-take or the so-called minimum charges by distribution utilities unless there would be a force majeure.

“The contracts require that the force majeure event must render it impossible for a party to fulfill its obligation, such as when its operations are totally paralyzed to receive the supply of energy, and not just a mere incapacity to consume the Contract Energy or inability to meet the Minimum Charges or off-take,” it said.

PSALM is also deferring the prompt payment discount for distribution utilities remitting their payments until April 29.

PSALM will be extending both capacity and energy payments of IPP administrators provided that IPPs would grant them the same extension period for the remittance of their payments to them.

“If the IPPs refuse to give an extension to PSALM, then PSALM is constrained not to give an extension to the IPPAs,” it added.

Similarly, PSALM’s obligations to the beneficiaries of universal charges are also extended by the same number of days of extension it granted the UC collecting entities.

This includes universal charges for missionary electrification, environmental charge for watershed rehabilitation and management, and stranded debts.

The firm is postponing the payments of its generating facilities to its fuel suppliers up to 30 days from April 15, as well.

PSALM said it was abiding by the DoE advisory, which clarified that only disputes regarding the settlement of any of the accounts payable to the agency falling within the quarantine period will be put on hold.

PSALM reminded distribution utilities and UC collecting entities they should remit any collections they could make within their original deadlines without awaiting the end of the extension period. This is to lessen the impact of the extension of the payments to power generation companies. — Adam J. Ang