Bill seeks more transparency in energy regulation

June 23, 2017 at 15:00

Bill seeks more transparency in energy regulation

 June 22, 2017
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday filed a bill seeking more transparency in the  Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in order to ensure  fair and reasonable power rates.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, filed Senate Bill No. 1490 or the ERC Governance Act of 2017 which  proposes that the ERC hold public hearings, host live internet streaming of the hearings on its website and present to the public a transcript of stenographic notes and minutes of the meeting within a week from the date of the open hearing.

The bill aims to increase transparency and accountability in the energy regulation sector of the country.

“The ERC, as the regulator, has a definitive role in safeguarding the interests of the public and should therefore provide greater confidence that regulatory decisions are made on an objective, impartial and consistent basis, without conflict of interest, bias or improper influence,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“These reforms will give life to the constitutional rights of our citizens to have access to public information which directly affects the power costs they see in their monthly electricity bills. It’s like a mini-Freedom of Information bill which specifically targets the energy regulation sector,” Gatchalian said.

However, to protect trade secrets and confidential information, the bill allows the holding of executive sessions ‘upon a majority vote’ of the ERC, but only if the reasons for such confidentiality are identified during an open meeting.

Executive sessions will also be allowed to “discuss the disciplining or dismissal of complaints or charges brought against a public officer, employee or staff of ERC.”

The bill also seeks to reform the governance structure of the ERC, and equally distribute its regulatory powers and management functions among other officers through removing the chairperson’s control over the management of the Commission.

The chairperson’s role will instead be as Chief Executive Officer to the Executive Director, who shall be appointed by the Commission collectively.

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