Power to promotion of consumer interests

On June 8, 2001, Congress enacted Republic Act (RA) No. 9136, known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), a landmark legislation which governs the energy industry.Sections 41, 43 and 45 of IPRA provide the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) with sufficient legal authority to issue orders with the end in view of promoting competition in the electricity market while affording adequate and appropriate consumer protection, viz:

SECTION 41. Promotion of Consumer Interests. - The ERC shall handle consumer complaints and ensure the adequate promotion of consumer interests.

SECTION 43. Functions of the ERC. - The ERC shall promote competition, encourage market development, ensure customer choice and discourage/penalize abuse of market power in the restructured electricity industry. Towards this end, it shall be responsible for the following key functions in the restructured industry:

x x x x

(c) Enforce the rules and regulations governing the operations of the electricity spot market and the activities of the spot market operator and other participants in the spot market, for the purpose of ensuring a greater supply and rational pricing of electricity;

x x x x

(k) Monitor and take measures in accordance with this Act to penalize abuse of market power, cartelization, and anti-competitive or discriminatory behavior by any electric power industry participant;

(o) Monitor the activities in the generation and supply of the electric power industry with the end in view of promoting free market competition and ensuring that the allocation or pass through of bulk purchase cost by distributors is transparent, non-discriminatory and that any existing subsidies shall be divided pro-rata among all retail suppliers;

(t) Perform such other regulatory functions as are appropriate in order to ensure the successful restructuring and modernization of the electric power industry x x x. .

x x x x

SECTION 45. Cross Ownership, Market Power Abuse and Anti-competitive Behavior. - No participant in the electricity industry or any other person may engage in any anti-competitive behavior including, but not limited to, cross-subsidization, price or market manipulation, or other unfair trade practices detrimental to the encouragement and protection of contestable markets.

x x x x

The ERC shall, within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, promulgate rules and regulations to ensure and promote competition, encourage market development and customer choice and discourage/penalize abuse of market power, cartelization and any anti-competitive or discriminatory behavior, in order to further the intent of this Act and protect the public interest. Such rules and regulations shall define the following:

(a) the relevant markets for purposes of establishing abuse or misuse of monopoly or market position;

(b) areas of isolated grids; and

(c) the periodic reportorial requirements of electric power industry participants as may be necessary to enforce the provisions of this Section.

The ERC shall, motu proprio, monitor and penalize any market power abuse or anti-competitive or discriminatory act or behavior by any participant in the electric power industry. Upon finding that a market participant has engaged in such act or behavior, the ERC shall stop and redress the same. Such remedies shall, without limitation, include the imposition of price controls, issuance of injunctions, requirement of divestment or disgorgement of excess profits and imposition of fines and penalties pursuant to this Act.

The ERC shall, within one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act, promulgate rules and regulations providing for a complaint procedure that, without limitation, provides the accused party with notice and an opportunity to be heard.