22 April 2019
PCC looks into power plant shutdowns, outages for alleged collusion
The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) looks into allegations of collusion or abuse of dominance amid a series of shutdowns among power plants that may have contributed to price increase in the retail electricity market.
The recent spate of scheduled and forced outages in Luzon by different power plants has reportedly reduced power reserves, caused calls for red or yellow alerts, and induced rotating brownouts, which in turn sparked complaints from the public. The PCC shall assess whether the recent power plants’ outages are manipulated to increase electricity prices or are valid unplanned breakdowns that affect supply conditions.
Under the Philippine Competition Act, the PCC is mandated to promote fair market competition, prohibit anti-competitive behavior among businesses across sectors including the power sector, and advance consumer welfare in the process.
The PCC warns power generation companies from engaging in anti-competitive or collusive behavior which is punishable by the competition law with fines of up to P250 million, and imprisonment of responsible officers of up to seven (7) years. The Commission, through its enforcement unit, welcomes the call for technical reports or audits by the Department of Energy (DOE) over the concerned power plants and their control rooms, as well as any lead or information from the public or experts in the field.
While the PCC has primary and original jurisdiction over competition concerns, the antitrust commission acknowledges the technical expertise and regulatory functions of the DOE and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in overseeing the power industry.
With this, the PCC seeks to deepen its ties and advance its previous discussions with the DOE and ERC towards a Memorandum of Agreement in order to facilitate market competition and investigations in the power sector.
Arsenio M. Balisacan, PhD
Philippine Competition Commission