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House to draft bill creating offices for energy consumers


MANILA—The House Committee on Energy has tasked a technical working group (TWG) to consolidate proposals that provide for the national energy policy and framework for electric power advocacy.

In a virtual meeting, the panel formed a TWG that would craft the substitute bill for House Bills 7608 and 8786.

HB 7608 proposes the creation of the Energy Advocate Office (EAO) that would act as the independent end-user representative in all rate-setting, rule-making, as well as other energy-related cases and proceedings before government agencies, including judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.

The EAO would be an independent and autonomous office attached to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in accordance with the Administrative Code of 1987.

Meanwhile, HB 8786 seeks to create the Energy Counsel Office (ECO) that would solely represent the interest of end-users in rate-setting, rule-making, as well as other energy-related cases and proceedings before all government agencies, including judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.

The ECO would also be an independent body and autonomous office attached to the DOJ.

During the hearing, DOJ State Counsel Jenny de Castro said it would be better if the proposed office is created either as an independent one or attached to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Castro explained that the mandate of both offices may be more aligned to the mandate and function of the DTI on the protection and promotion of consumer rights of end-users of electricity, which is being provided by the energy sector.

“As mentioned before, we support the noble purpose of advocating the right of the public to reasonable rates, adequate and reliable services, and the transparent processes by having an institutionalized office to represent energy consumers,” Castro said.

Lawyer Myra Roa, chief of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Power Legal Services Division, on the other hand, said the agency is generally supporting the two bills.

“The DOE in the exercise of its rule-making authority has always engaged the consumers, the private sectors, and stakeholders in coming up with policies such as, but not limited to public consultations, including any sectoral or consumer groups, focus group discussions and the like,” she said. (PNA)