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ERC is DoE’s ‘secret weapon’

  • Written by Dennis F. Fetalino
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 333

The man has been around--- been there, done that--- and he needs no telling, especially from uninitiated, newbie politician.

In short, he should stay the course and not be distracted by the political noise generated by amateurs.

New Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is simply a straight shooter who gets the job done without so much fuzz.
   
This makes him the ideal, ultimate bureaucrat or public servant.
   
This also explains why he is serially on board recent administrations, including the current one.
   
New Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi should not mind the “patutsada” he recently got from some lawmakers during a hearing by the Senate Energy Committee.
   
He should focus on the initiatives he has started because these are sending the right message to the powers that be in the industry he now heads.
   
A neophyte lawmaker questioned Cusi’s move to tap private sector organizations to help the Department of Energy do the technical audit of private firms involved in power generation.
   
The said lawmaker attempted to cast doubts on the wisdom of the move, admonishing Cusi that the DoE should have its own pool of technical experts within the department.
   
The “patutsada” betrays a major lack of understanding on the part of the lawmaker.
   
Such impertinence is previously unheard of in parliamentary discourse!
   
PedXing insists that person should have commended Cusi instead. By tapping the private organization, Cusi expanded the universe of stakeholders in the success of the power industry and saved precious taxpayer money in the process.
   
The said lawmaker, if that person is familiar with the power industry, should also have commended Cusi. Doing a technical audit of private firms in that industry is like stepping on the toes of sleeping giants.
   
The organization tapped pro bono by Cusi to help the government conduct the technical audit is the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers.
   
Another organization that is clearly standing behind the DoE’s Cusi is the Energy Regulatory Commission.
   
Last we heard, the ERC is standing behind Cusi’s proposal to tap the Malampaya funds to pay off the monstrous debts that has served as a legacy of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to the Filipino people.
   
This is referred to as stranded costs and is passed on to ordinary consumers as part of universal charges. If Cusi succeeds in this move, lower power rates can become a reality sooner than hoped for.
   
It is good news that ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar has backed this move. In a tweet to media, the ERC chair said “there is wisdom in this move and we should help the DoE secretary establish a legal basis for such move”.
   
It looks like Cusi not only has a good ally in the ERC – the ERC can also serve as his “secret weapon” in his efforts at reforming the power industry.
   
With ERC on Cusi’s side, powerful industry players should have second thoughts about throwing their weight around to stifle the secretary’s plans.
   
The ERC approves most of what power companies need to keep their business running. An ERC with the teeth and the will to fulfill its mandate is sure to rally the industry behind the needed reforms.
   
In the past, the DoE and the ERC were hardly partners. There were instances when the DoE had to publicly complain about the lack of cooperation from the ERC.
   
If we are reading the developments correctly, that should be a thing of the past. It is in the best interest of the ordinary consumer to have Cusi and Salazar working together to make sure that we are charged fairly and reasonably for the power we use.
   
Unlike his predecessor, Salazar is not a politician. The ERC head does not appear to relish the limelight. Cusi should find this a plus factor in his bid to carry out his mission in the power sector.