December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Phinma Energy still confident of RES business prospects despite TRO

PHINMA ENERGY Corp. remains optimistic on the prospects of its retail electricity supply business, despite a Supreme Court (SC) order that put on hold regulations that were supposed to force big power users to switch from being captive customers of distribution utilities.


“Despite the activities that happened before the switching deadline, we were able to switch 100-megawatts (MW) worth of customers by ... the February deadline,” said Danielle R. del Rosario, Phinma Energy assistant vice-president and head of sales and marketing, in a recent interview.

Ms. Del Rosario was referring to the Feb. 26 deadline set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) that required consumers with an average monthly usage of at least 1 MW to source power from a licensed retail electricity supplier (RES).

The SC has since issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that stopped the lowering of the threshold to cover those with an average peak demand of 750 kilowatts to 999 kilowatts (kW). The mandatory switch would have taken effect on June 26.

The lowering of the threshold to cover consumers with an average monthly peak demand of 500 kW is supposed be implemented on June 26, 2018, but subject to the review of the performance of the retail market by the ERC.

“Despite the efforts to delay the retail competition expansion, we were still able to switch a hundred (MW), and we’re still talking to the same customers who committed to us by year end,” Ms. Del Rosario said.

Earlier this year, she said Phinma Energy had been able to corner 171 MW worth of new contracts. She said the company was looking at doubling that figure.

The TRO, however, left customers confused as to whether switching to a RES from a distribution utility can be voluntary.

“Some of them just switched at a later date, some of are still under negotiations,” Ms. Del Rosario said.

“So we remain confident that this is a segment of the business that we can continue to expand. It’s very competitive though so it’s becoming increasingly difficult given the prices,” she added.

In its annual report, Phinma Energy said it “is invigorated with resolve to capture a significant share of the retail electricity market through customizable power solutions, serving a greater number of energy end-users with a customer-centric approach.”

Ms. Del Rosario said based on the ERC’s statistical report as of end-January 2017, it has become a strong player in the retail electricity supply business.

“Phinma Energy is the second-largest single RES. If you don’t consolidate the others, Phinma Energy is already the second-largest at 12% of the those who have switched already,” she said.

Sought to clarify the confusion on whether switching can be voluntary, Phillip C. Adviento, Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) training and communications manager, said in a text message: “The switching of 750 kW to 999 kW CCs (contestable customers) is put on hold in view of the TRO issued by the SC.”

“The TRO enjoined the implementation of DoE Circular 2015-06-0010 and ERC Resolution No. 10, series of 2016 that provided for the reduction of contestability threshold to 750 kW,” he added.

“The voluntary switching of 1 MW is in effect based on ERC Resolution No. 11, series of 2013, which was not covered by the TRO,” Mr. Adviento said.

He earlier said that PEMC had been directed by the ERC to be come up with the central registration and settlement system required by the rules governing retail competition and open access.