Business

Power regulators harmonize consumer protection programs

Power regulators harmonize consumer protection programs

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) have teamed up to harmonize and strengthen their respective consumer welfare and protection programs in the energy sector.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by both parties aims to strengthen the consumer welfare desks (CWDs) of the distribution utilities (DUs) by providing them with opportunities for continuous improvement and by inculcating a consumer-centric culture. This will ensure prompt, cost-effective, reliable and efficient delivery of services.

“This is a significant milestone for both the ERC and the DOE as the MOU formalizes and seals our collaboration towards promotion and protection of consumer interest,” ERC chairperson and chief executive officer Agnes Devanadera said.

Under the MOU, the DOE through its consumer welfare and promotion office and the ERC’s consumer affairs service will jointly undertake data and information sharing to improve consumer services.

Both agencies will also conduct consumer behavior survey, studies and other researches.

The DOE and ERC will likewise undertake modernization and improvements, such as securing International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification for consumer complaints handling process, as well as conduct training and development to enhance the capabilities of consumer welfare desk officers (CWDOs).

They will also exchange technological and best practices in the area of consumer protection.

The MOU also calls for the formulation of policy recommendations/formulation to ensure the proper implementation of projects and activities on consumer welfare promotion, protection, and empowerment.

Under the MOU, the DOE and ERC will monitor and evaluate the progress and the need to improve thereon, if any; and harmonization of plans and programs for CWDs.  

“One way of empowering consumers, as we promote and protect their interests, is through the ERC recently promulgated amendments to the net-metering rules. Under the amended net-metering program, an ordinary consumer can become a ‘prosumer’ who can generate electricity for his own consumption, as well as sell any excess generation to the distribution grid. That, in itself, is ERC’s contribution to empower the consumers,” Devanadera said.