Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) 101

Qualified customers have been given the power to choose their energy supplier through the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) as stipulated by the Republic Act 9136, otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Form Act of 2001 (EPIRA).

EPIRA has drastically liberalized the Philippine electricity sector with at least three important provisions: (1) deregulation and demonopolization of the power generation sector, (2) creation of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), and (3) liberalization and demonopolization of electricity distribution via Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA).

RCOA aims for a robust competition in the retail electricity market among stakeholders.  Under the RCOA structure, contestable customers, or those electricity end-users with monthly average peak demand falling within the threshold of contestability as determined by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) have a choice to select a supplier of electricity effective June 26, 2013. End-users with monthly average peak demand of 750 kW and above are allowed to choose their supplier of electricity under agreed terms and rates.

Licenses to operate as RES are being evaluated and granted by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). Certificates of Contestability are likewise being granted to qualified contestable customers.

On February 21, 2017, the mandatory migration aspect of RCOA was temporarily put on hold along with the eligibility of distribution utilities to participate as suppliers, and the timeline for lowering the thresholds for contestable customers. At present, qualified contestable customers are allowed to voluntarily switch to RES through RCOA scheme.

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