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Myrna Velasco

ERC sets audit on WESM market operator

The budgetary process and expenditures of the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) will be under fresh scrutiny as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) calls for an audit of the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation. According to ERC Chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar, the bids and awards committee of the Commission “already published the request for expression of interest – and the process is now ongoing for the procurement of an auditing firm that will conduct the audit of PEMC.” He noted that previous audits were already done on the electricity spot market operator, but due to concerns raised by some sectors, the ERC will have to carry out a new round of evaluation that may also validate earlier findings. “Just to address the concerns of some sectors, the audit will be …

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ERC okays Agus plant’s switchyard upgrade

The two-phased upgrade of the switchyard of the Agus 2 hydropower plant in Mindanao was given go-signal by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to address system vulnerability and inject power stability in the grid. In its ruling, the regulatory body has directed project-implementor National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to “conduct competitive bidding for the purchase of major materials in the implementation of the proposed project.” The project will cost P569.188 million based on budget set in the ERC’s decision. It will be sourced from the internally generated cash of NGCP. “The contract for the supply of materials for the proposed projects will be assigned to qualified suppliers and contractors following a competitive bidding and selection process,” the ERC has emphasized. The switchyard, it was noted, is currently in decrepit state – given …

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ERC prepares for IT-enabled process

A computer data program and platform will soon be the “biggest ally” of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in carrying out its function as the agency is now firming up migration plans into information technology-enabled regulatory processes. ERC chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar told reporters that planning on turning their regulatory processes into an IT-underpinned system will be stepped up within the month. With the aid of the World Bank, he stressed that the completion of the study on its IT migration can be completed in four months. Work will start last week of January. “Part of the study is to estimate how much the cost (of this IT-enabled migration) will be,” Salazar said. The consultant for the project will further determine how long the entire implementation time frame would take and will …

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PSALM to revise power supply contracts with Mindanao off-takers

With its dwindling capacity, state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) has indicated that it intends to revise its power supply contracts with various off-takers in Mindanao grid. The company, in a statement, has noted that “the contract for supply of electric energy (CSEE) of the 49 power customers in Mindanao is under review for the revision of the CSEE’s contracted demand and energy for these customers,” psalmFundamentally, PSALM has cited that the forecast available capacity from its existing assets will just be hovering at 655 megawatts by next year. In series of consultations with affected off-takers (capacity buyers) and customers, PSALM has discussed allocation of capacity based on their demand vis-à-vis the available capacity from its remaining generating facilities in the grid. The state-run firm said it “convened the representatives of …

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Euphoric over cheap oil prices but the energy sector is still ‘under siege’ (First of two parts)

Globally, the call is to institute policy fixes aimed at “greening” energy systems – but it must be a transformation of the existing energy paradigm without necessarily resorting to rapid and costly shifts in technology deployments. But while traversing transition phases, some markets have their own domestic problems to solve while fusing with the world in pursuing a common objective of preserving a planet of which resources we just literally borrowed from the next generations. As human beings, there is a natural tendency for us to desire having lives of fulfillment. But this has been the experts’ cautionary word on that “ecological deficit frame”: There is a need for efficient and sustainable utilization of energy resources and that a “cleaner energy future is inescapable.” The clock, by far, has already started ticking LOCAL …

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AES to complete battery energy storage mid-2016

The battery-based energy storage of American firm AES Corporation at its Masinloc coal plant site in Zambales is up for completion middle of next year. That will then add 10 megawatts of interconnected capacity to its facility that will expectedly “enhance the reliability of the Luzon grid.” As set on blueprint, the proposed Masinloc Array will be equipped with the Advancion energy storage solution of the US firm. This is a pioneering effort when it comes to commercial-scale deployment of battery energy storage in the Philippines, thus, all eyes are on the outcome of such technology experiment. The battery installation broke ground mid-December at the 600-MW Masinloc plant site – graced by AES Asia strategic business unit president Marty Crotty along with energy officials and executives and officials from the host local government unit. Following …

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ERC executive director quits, cites health reasons

An official who had become the “face and voice” of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for many years – Executive Director Francis Saturnino Juan will step down on January 8, 2016 from the regulatory body citing his need for “medical treatment” as the primary reason. That was formally announced recently to the media by ERC Chairman Jose Vicente B. Salazar, although he noted that he will still retain Juan’s services for sometime as the Commission’s consultant. A University of the Philippines-educated lawyer, Juan who was also the ERC’s spokesperson for years had fought many battles for the Commission, including the time that it was under attack due to the “collusion charges” hurled against power industry players. He also faced many Congressional inquiries and represented the ERC even in court proceedings when the Commission’s …

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