Independent WESM operations seen with vote on IMO Transition Plan

(Pasig City). – Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) members across various electric power industry sectors gathered today for the First Membership Meeting to vote on the Independent Market Operator (IMO) Transition Plan.

Of the total 1,837,440 votes, an overwhelming 1,493,652.5 votes accounting for 81.3% voted in favor of the Transition Plan.

Votes against were at 4,029.5 votes or 0.002%, abstention votes were at 475.2 or 0.0003%, while 339,284.30 or 18.5% did not cast a vote.

The move towards the independent operations of the electricity market has been overdue for more than a decade, with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) initially calling for the formation of an IMO one year after the WESM’s establishment.

Energy Secretary and Chairperson of the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) Alfonso G. Cusi welcomed the results of the vote, saying that independent WESM operations exemplify the government’s commitment to continued industry reform, private sector participation and inclusive progress.

“We will be fulfilling one of the most salient programs of the EPIRA, which empowers the country with more freedom of choice, as well as a free and competitive market,” Cusi said.

Upon the recommendation of the PEMC Transition Committee and the approval of the PEM Board, the IMO should, among others, comply with the following requirements:

• it should be an independent entity to be formed or selected, and not owned directly nor indirectly by distribution utilities, retail electricity suppliers and other industry players;

• it should be jointly endorsed by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the electric power industry participants through a majority vote of PEMC members; and

• it must possess financial and technical capabilities and operate on a non-profit basis.

The DOE would cease its involvement in the PEMC Board, but maintain its mandates of policy oversight, approval of the rules, manuals, as well as operational and performance standards, while the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) would maintain its role as the regulator. The Transition Plan retains PEMC as the governing body of the IMO, albeit existing as completely separate entities.

Cusi emphasized that despite the IMO’s independence, the DOE shall continue with its mandate to prescribe fair and relevant WESM rules.

Furthermore, the DOE and the ERC will maintain vigilance in their roles as the people’s guardian against breaches and anti-competitive behavior.