A BILL strengthening the Energy Regulatory Commission by streamlining its bureaucracy, upgrading its employees’ skills, and augmenting their benefits has passed the House of Representatives on second reading on Friday.
“An upgraded ERC manpower will mean higher capacity to address the huge ERC workload and backlog of cases and pending petitions,” said Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta (1-CARE Party-list), who chaired the technical working group that produced the consolidated bill and presented the bill at plenary for second reading.
The bill raises the requirement to be appointed one of the five Commissioners. From the required three years of experience in related fields to five years. Also, among the five member ERC, there should be at least two lawyers, at least one engineer, and one economist.
To streamline the process, the bill seeks to separate the functions of that of the Chairperson’s from that of the Executive Director’s. The Executive Director shall oversee the daily operations of the ERC, provide periodic updates, and ensure compliance of services; while the Chair can focus on implementing the Commission’s mandate and act on appointment of personnel.
To attract the best talents, the ERC shall also be exempted from coverage of RA 6758 (Salary Standardization Act). ERC shall also provide its employees with health care, accident insurance policies, performance incentives, and other benefits.
“Moving forward, Congress wants an ERC that can hear more cases en banc and can tackle with more focus the many highly-technical issues of energy regulation. With a revitalized ERC, it will be able to dissect the issues involving power rates, finance, consumer impact, policy, and legal intricacies,” according to Uybarreta, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Energy.
To promote transparency, the ERC shall establish an Electronic Disclosure and Data Access (EDDA) system for disclosure of energy industry information for public access, House Bill 9053 states.
To achieve fiscal autonomy, the ERC is allowed to use 30% of its generated revenues in addition to its yearly appropriation in the GAA, according to the proposed measure.