National Grid Corp hits ‘orchestrated plan’ to undermine firm

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NGCP hits ‘orchestrated plan’ to undermine firm

The operator of the country’s electricity transmission network on Wednesday broke its silence after weeks of being on the receiving end of adverse policy decisions by energy regulators and what it described as an “orchestrated plan” to undermine the firm at the expense of consumers’ welfare.

“The relentless attacks we suffered, and the fault finding where there was no fault to be found was a clear indication to us that this, and other contemporaneous moves undertaken by certain players in the industry, were part of a larger, orchestrated plan to put their economic interests above ours, even at the expense of the consumers,” National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said in a statement.

This came on the heels of a decision by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) last month to slap the privately-owned transmission firm with a P5.1-million fine for violating certain provisions of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) circular on securing power reserves or ancillary services via public bidding.

NGCP said it was “sorely disappointed” at the recent turn of events, but stopped short of identifying the parties it was accusing of attacking the firm.

The recent developments also extend the tense relationship between NGCP and energy regulators under the previous administration who pushed the renationalization of the transmission assets that were privatized during the Arroyo administration.

In its Oct. 27 decision, the ERC said NGCP failed to secure approval from the DOE before publishing its terms of reference and invitation to bid for ancillary services.

The ERC then threatened to push for the revocation of its legislative franchise for noncompliance with laws, rules, orders and regulations issued by authorities.

It added, “no amount of monetary penalty can sufficiently equate to or compensate for the willful disregard by NGCP of validly issued regulations of the Philippine government and its administrative agencies.”

NGCP countered that the “willful disregard” being cited by the ERC “has to be put in the proper context, and our acts shouldn’t be taken in isolation.” “We were wary and defensive, given the overtly biased and intrusive political atmosphere prevailing at the time,” it added.

NGCP had sought to foster a working relationship with the government as early as 2016 or at the onset of the former Duterte administration to no avail.

NGCP—which is 60 percent Filipino owned, and 40-percent owned by China’s power grid operator—said it had hoped to foster a more cooperative working relationship with the current set of energy regulators.

“This was the tone we wanted to set when Messrs. Sy (NGCP chair Henry Sy. Jr.) and Almeda (president Anthony Almeda) paid a courtesy call to the newly installed DOE leadership about two months ago,” said NGCP.

“This very issue on the ancillary service-competitive selection process submission was raised by the Secretary and the appropriate submissions to the DOE were made within hours of that first meeting. As if timed to the hour, the ERC show cause was issued the very next day.”

It pointed out that the “common backgrounds in the leadership are not by coincidence, they are clearly by design.”

“It seems that duplicity is still the name of the game, and we are still dealing with the same economically motivated political maneuvers,” it said.

Nonetheless, NGCP expressed its willingness to work with the industry, provided that vested interests are set aside, and fairness made to prevail. INQ

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