DOE: EPIRA 'missing portions' on electric coop reform, stronger ERC processes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 10) — Amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) must cover the reform of electric cooperatives and enhance the Energy Regulatory Commission's (ERC) processes and structures, the Department of Energy said Wednesday.

During a Senate energy committee hearing, Energy Sec. Raphael Lotilla said the law has "missing portions" on these. The same applies to the promotion of competition within the industry, including how the Philippine Competition Commission can come in, he added.

Lotilla's remarks were in response to Senate President Migz Zubiri's question on what needs to be amended in the measure.

Amendments to EPIRA are among the priority measures President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. revealed during his first State of the Nation Address.

The bill seeks to restructure the ERC and address expensive electricity costs in the country, which is included in Marcos's campaign promises.

Members of the panel led Sen. Raffy Tulfo also urged Lotilla to tackle the issue of high power rates immediately and increase the presence of renewable energy in the country's energy mix.

"Sawang-sawa na po 'yung taumbayan sa patuloy na pagb-brownout, day in and day out. At ang masama pa, adding insult to injury: palaging na ngang brownout, pagdating sa singilan antaas ng bill ng kuryente at kapag hindi nakabayad on time, pinuputulan agad. Pwede ba, Sec. Lotilla, do something about that," said Tulfo.

[Translation: The people are fed up with nonstop brownouts, day in and day out. What's worse is that, adding insult to injury: there's always a brownout, the electric bill is so high, and one's power supply is immediately cut when they're unable to pay on time. Please, Sec. Lotilla, do something about that.]

Senators earlier said they will summon former and incumbent officials of electric cooperatives, national agencies, and local government units during their probe into the issue.