The power generation companies (GenCos) that are experiencing prolonged outages on their generation facilities could face anti-competitive behavior and economic sabotage raps because they have been violating government-enforced laws and policies, according to the Department of Energy.

According to Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella, the department already engaged the help of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) an the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to determine the culpability of the power companies whose facilities are on extended shutdowns –including those which preventive maintenance schedules are already going beyond committed timeframes.

“The DOE asked for assistance from the ERC, PCC and DOJ for enforcement assistance and case build-up on any violation of laws and other policies by the industry players,” he said, and that shall include the department’s Circular DC2020-02-0004 which casts the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) or the policy guide on the scheduling of preventive maintenance of electric generating facilities.

The energy official indicated that one case that could be filed against the power companies will be on anti-competitive behavior, primarily if it will be established that they have been intentionally perpetrating acts that could result in artificial supply shortage in the market – or what can be referred to as “market gaming” that in turn could result in higher electric bills for consumers.

But a tougher offense that could be rapped against them is economic sabotage, with Fuentebella noting that the government is now determining cases to be filed against them, and “we would even go up for economic sabotage considering that this is a very delicate industry – that any outage and their violation of policies could result in major damage to the economy, so it even goes as far as that.”

He stressed “what we are saying here is: we have policies, then they submit schedules (for plant maintenance) that are going beyond the period that they committed, which should not have been the case.”

Fuentebella explained that “the move to have the legal services involved is: because when we talked to PCC, ERC and even the DOJ, these are the legal matters that we’ve been talking about.”

The energy official added “what we are doing is, we are combining the power bureau and legal services so that we can provide the necessary information that would be required from us by these enforcement agencies.”

Aside from discussions with the various relevant enforcement agencies, Fuentebella stated that the concern on simultaneous and extended outages of power plants had also been raised to the Cabinet Assistance System (CAS) in a meeting that was convened in Malacanang on March 23 this year.

In spite of the recurring predicaments of the country’s power system, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi reiterated that “the government is on top of the situation and has undertaken the necessary actions to ensure energy security this summer.”

The department reminded the power generation companies and the system operator of the key provisions of the GOMP that they must comply with – including the three-year planned outage schedules that they have submitted.

With that targeted advance planning, the DOE underscored that it shall be able to “direct the necessary adjustments in the generation and transmission planned outage schedules.”

Following that, the energy department further stipulated that system operator of the transmission network as well as the market operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and the concerned GenCos “shall be informed accordingly of any changes in the submitted GOMP.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (