Power firms deny collusion allegations

MANILA, Philippines – Power companies dismissed speculations that they may have colluded amid the recent power outages in parts of Luzon.

Manny Rubio, chief operating officer of Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower), said in a press briefing on Monday, April 15, that the red alert status in the Luzon grid is bad for business.

"Only when the plant is running, generators actually, we make revenues. That's the only time we can sell," he said.

Moreover, Rubio explained that AboitizPower has been contracted beyond its capacity and buys the deficit from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

He said the buying price at WESM is already at P9 per kilowatt hour (kWh), while the selling price to customers hovers between P3.50 and P4 per kWh.

"We are losing money," Rubio said.

Gregory Romualdez, external affairs head of Team Energy Corporation, also echoed Rubio's sentiments, citing the expensive energy prices in WESM.

The statements of the firms come a week after Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Senate committee on energy chairman, urged the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to look into possible anti-competitive behavior among power plants.

Gatchalian also said the government should review the spike in WESM prices.

"We will now flag DOE and also PCC to look for possible collusion.... Ang laki ng nawala sa sistema natin, 1400 MW is malaking capacity 'yan out of the close to 13,000 megawatts here in Luzon. Close to 5% ng supply natin na nawala bigla," Gatchalian said in a GMA News article.

(We will now flag DOE and also PCC to look for possible collusion.... We're losing big in our system, 1,400 MW is big capacity out of the close to 13,000 MW here in Luzon. Close to 5% of our supply was suddenly lost.)

Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said the DOE will submit all facts they have gathered regarding the matter to the PCC, the Energy Regulatory Commission, and Congress.

Fuentebella said the outages were caused by power plants' sudden malfunctions. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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