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Group questions IMEM legitimacy before high court

By BWM News Bureau

A GROUP of electricity consumers in Mindanao is taking the cudgel to question the legitimacy of the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM) before the high court.

“We are preparing the appropriate legal charges to be filed at the Supreme Court against the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation and the Department of Energy,” said Engr. David A. Tauli, president of the Mindanao Coalition of Power Consumers (MCPC). “Distribution utilities in Mindanao are not only being charged in excess of approved generation rates, they are also being charged for power supply that was not delivered.”

In a letter to PEMC, a local utility said it has not nominated or purchased any energy from IMEM and was protesting and rejecting the billing statement pending ratification from PEMC.

Tauli said the power bills sent by the PEMC to the ECs makes it clear what the MCPC and others have been saying all along that: (1) the IMEM is pernicious to Mindanao power consumers (because the PEMC is making the consumers pa rates three times greater than ERC-approved generation rates, for energy which wasn’t supplied or used); and (2) the IMEM cannot attain the purposes for which it was designed by the DOE, which is to enable embedded generators to supply power to the Grid in period of power shortages (none of the embedded generators injected power supply to the Grid during the November-December billing period).

Although there were no power curtailments by the grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines during the subject billing period, Tauli said the PEMC is claiming in the power bills that the IMEM supplied power to the ECs even during off-peak periods, contrary to its intended purpose.

Primarily the MCPC is questioning the creation of the IMEM which is not included in the EPIRA Law of 2001 but was created by an executive order from the DOE, thereby usurping the powers of Congress.

The IMEM Rules require the electric coops to obtain their power supply from the IMEM whenever there is a deficit between their contracted power supply and their actual hourly demand.

This is the reason why the PEMC considered it appropriate to bill the electric coops for the power supply that the ECs supposedly obtained from the IMEM in the period November 26 to December 25, 2013, even though the ECs submitted zero nominations in that period.

Earlier, DOE Undesecretary Raul B. Aguilos assured in writing that “The supply of power from IMEM to any electric cooperative should be voluntary, not mandatory, on the part of the electric cooperative.”

In his letter to the Institute of Power Sector Economics of the Mindanao University of Science and Technology, Mr. Aguilos cited Clause 3.2.7.1 of the IMEM Rules which provides that an IMEM Customer (i.e., Electric Cooperatives, Private Distribution Utilities, Grid-Connected End Users) shall determine and submit to the IMEM Operator the quantity that it intends to purchase from the IMEM.

“Although the same Clause provides suggested bases for determining the quantity, it does not impose any specific method for determining the quantity. Hence, it is still left to the discretion of the IMEM Customer if it will opt to purchase energy from the IMEM,” Aguilos said in his letter.

“In billing the electric cooperatives for the fictitious IMEM consumption, either the PEMC betrayed the assurance of the DOE, or the DOE is ignorant of the intentions and actions of the PEMC. Or, most likely, both,” Tauli said.