By Victor V. Saulon, September 4 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Rappler

THE Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) has asked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to resolve the pending cases involving the collection of unpaid dues amounting to P216 million from power distribution companies and industries.

PSALM President and Chief Executive Officer Irene Joy B. Garcia said the cases involve unpaid default wholesale supplier arrangement (DWSA) charges of five firms that have contested the payment of the obligations before the ERC.

“These cases delay PSALM’s collection efforts. The cases have been submitted for ERC’s decision several years ago. We hope that ERC can help us to finally collect the DWSAs due to PSALM, which we desperately need in order to be able to settle the remaining obligations we assumed from (National Power Corp.),” she said in a statement Wednesday.

The statement was issued by the Department of Finance, whose top official chairs the PSALM board. Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who is vice-chair, were provided copies of PSALM’s letter to ERC.

The cases involve Angeles Electric Corp., San Fernando Light and Power Co. and Tarlac Electric Inc. The three jointly questioned PSALM’s collection of P75.001 million in DWSA charges.

PSALM is also trying to collect P2.681 million from Melters Steel Corp., which has also lodged a case against the agency and the National Power Corp. (Napocor) before the ERC. Steel Corp. of the Philippines has also filed a case before the ERC involving unpaid DWSA charges and power bill adjustments amounting to P138.321 million.

In her letter to the ERC, Ms. Garcia said her office was “very confident” of its legal position for collecting the DWSAs. She said PSALM is authorized to impose the Napocor grid rate or the wholesale electricity spot market ex-post nodal energy price, whichever is higher, and a premium of 10%.

She said PSALM’s position on the issue is fully supported by both the ERC and the Department of Energy, as reflected, respectively, in ERC Resolution No. 44, series of 2006, and DoE Circular No. 2006-06-0009.

Ms. Garcia said PSALM’s borrowing costs amount to about 8% per annum, which could be cut if the pending cases are resolved and the debtors are directed to pay PSALM immediately.

PSALM previously demanded payment from 14 firms with long-overdue obligations amounting to P1.931 billion. It also seeks to collect P238.3 million in unremitted universal charge from 11 electric cooperatives. The agency said the collection efforts are intended to raise funds to pay the maturing obligations of Napocor. — Victor V. Saulon