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MANILA, Philippines – It’s all systems go for ‘open access’ by the 3rd quarter of 2012, according to Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.
In a press briefing, the energy chief said large power users, including factories, major companies and other end-users that consume an average of one megawatt a month, could start choosing their power generator this year.
“We want to make sure that everything happens, as there are things that need to be worked out as we approach the third quarter target. At this point, I will say it [the target] is very achievable,” he said.
Open access will allow qualified consumers to choose their own power suppliers instead of the present practice of distribution utilities sourcing electricity on their behalf.
This scheme, which is mandated under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), aims to spur competition in the power generation sector, which was once controlled by state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor).
Almendras was echoing what he said at the gathering of businessmen and investors at the Arangkada Forum last January 26. The attendees were following up when the open access would be in place as this was long anticipated to address their high electricity costs.
President Aquino said it will be in place by August, and Almendras said it will likely be around September or sometime in the 3rd quarter.
Open access and retail competition was supposed to begin on December 26, 2011 but the Energy Regulatory Commission deferred it.
At the core of the delay was not regulation or legislation, but the infrastructure, or the IT and financial systems, behind the process of power suppliers directly marketing their output to consumers work seamlessly.
Almendras had said that he wanted the entire infrastructure to be unquestionable and could stand tests of integrity–the typical battlecry of the Aquino administration.
The energy chief explained that it would take 4 to 5 months to roll out this infrastructure to piggyback on the existing market management system, or MMS.
The MMS is the computer system that facilitates the trading, dispatch and settlement of transactions at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).
Almendras said that the open access will mean increasing and upgrading the MMS to accommodate up to 800 players, including the retailers, from the current 80 wholesalers.
One at a time
The implementation of the open access will be gradual.
The first batch – the large power users – are those who have an average monthly peak demand of one megawatt (MW) over 12 months.
The coverage shall be expanded after 2 years to customers with a 750-kilowatt individual or aggregated demand. – Rappler.com