Meralco eyes staggered Jan rate hike collection

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THE Supreme Court has yet to issue a ruling on the legality of the P4.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) increase that the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) imposed late last year, but the utility firm has filed a revised petition asking the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to allow the collection of a 45-centavo/kWh hike for the month of January 2014.

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Meralco said it is willing to collect the rate increase on a staggered basis.

The company determined the amount of the price increase based on the recalculated cost of power on the electricity spot market for the supply month of December.

In its amended application, the power firm asked the ERC to approve the collection of higher rates based on its proposed power rate hike over a period of six months. Thus, if the 45 centavos per kWh increase is paid in six installments, Meralco customers will pay an additional P0.075 per kWh every month for six months.

If the new rate adjustment is imposed, households consuming an average of 200 kWh a month will find a combined increase of P90 in their electricity bills for the entire six months or P15 each month.

The ERC earlier ordered the Philippine Electric Market Corp. (PEMC), the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), to recalculate the average power rates in November and December 2013 after the regulatory body found that there was a market failure during that time when the Malampaya plant went off the grid for its scheduled maintenance. The tight power supply was compounded when other power producers also shut down their operations.

Meralco claimed that it had to collect a record P4.15 per kWh increase from its customers because it had to buy electricity on the spot market at higher rates. It also agreed to collect the record hike in three tranches but was stopped by the Supreme Court.

The power utility firm said it will wait for the ERC’s action on its new hike petition before adjusting its rates for the month of January.

Last week, the PEMC said the rate adjustments imposed by Meralco in late 2013 were excessive.

After reviewing the computations of the regulated prices for November and December, the PEMC said the average price rate in November should be P6.007/kWh instead of P25.404/kWh and P6.24/kWh for December, not P28.367/kWh.

If the recalculated rates are followed, the P4.15 per kWh increase that Meralco wanted to collect starting in December last year should be lowered to P2.43 per kWh.

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