By Jordeene Sheex Lagare – The Manila Times Online

The Department of Energy (DoE) is determined to move forward and resume the retail competition and open access (RCOA) scheme despite a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court.

The DoE recently unveiled the RCOA draft guidelines, which calls for voluntary participation of contestable customers—with an average demand of at least 750 kilowatt (kW)—in the retail market and bring down consumption threshold to 500 kW.

By December 2018 or earlier as indicated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), eligible end-users an average peak demand of not lower than 500 kW for the preceding 12 months may aggregate their demand voluntarily enter into a retail supply contract (RSC) with the aggregators.

The draft guidelines want clarity in engaging distribution utilities (DUs) as retail electricity supplier (RES), specifically unbundling requirements for DUs seeking to meet the demand the in contestable market.

It also seeks a clearer definition of the structural and functional unbundling DUs to be mandated to bolster the competition framework in retail supply.

The proposed policy is considering two options: seek the immediate resolution of the high court, or conduct consultations in coordination with the ERC and release new policies to ensure the RCOA is enforced.

Last week, Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella clarified the options during the launch of “E-Power Mo!” campaign in Cebu City.

To ensure the legality of the draft RCOA guidelines, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi sought the legal opinion of the Office of the Solicitor General.

“We asked for a legal opinion from the OSG on how we proceed. Are we going to be in contempt if we issue a circular lowering the threshold but making it voluntary?” he said.

In February, the SC halted the DoE and the ERC from implementing the mandatory migration of huge electricity consumers to the RCOA scheme.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, San Beda College Alabang Inc., Ateneo de Manila University, and Riverbanks Development Corp., argued that the new guidelines limits the accredited suppliers of major power consumers which must be allowed to exercise their choice to remain with their existing suppliers.