By Myrna M. Velasco
The operating entity of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) has a new president in lawyer Richard Nethercott — already the third one to serve at the helm of the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) in less than two years.
Nethercott, who is more known as a litigation lawyer before he was named into IEMOP Board in 2018 through Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi’s imprimatur, succeeded former IEMOP Presidents Francis Saturnino Juan and Jose Mari T. Bigornia. He was elected president on January 10 this year.
Prior to his stint at WESM, Nethercott has no known background in the energy sector – more so, in running a technical and complex electricity spot market. He was running his own law firm and had high profile clients prior to joining the IEMOP board two years ago.
Ahead of Nethercott’s leadership turn at the WESM would be array of deliverables: such as the recurrently delayed operations of WESM-Mindanao; the changes in the trading configuration of the amalgamated Luzon and Visayas spot markets; the addition of reserve market trading; RE Market as well as addressing the collusion raps long hurled against the spot market.
IEMOP was officially spun off from its governing entity Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) in September 2018. It was at that time that its function had been clearly demarcated to focus solely on supervising and managing the operations of the spot market.
The WESM operating entity had been on constant assault for prospective abolition or re-merging into PEMC, but now that the IEMOP chief executive is highly perceived to be Cusi’s own guy, energy sector players are expecting that the spot market clobbering may also cool off.
When an independent market operator was instituted for WESM roughly two years ago, there had been high expectations that the market’s affairs would really be managed and run independently – but the reverse was seen happening, with the government having tighter grip on the spot market now, which essentially is perceived as somewhat a failure relating to that particular exercise.
For WESM-Mindanao, it is expected that its commercial operations will finally happen within the first half of this year, as trial operations with targeted participants had already been fulfilled.