POWER distribution utility Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) announced on Thursday that the March electric bill for a typical residential household would increase by P0.66 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), bringing the overall rate to P9.67 per kWh from last month’s P9.00 per kWh.
This amounts to a P132 increase in the total bill of a typical residential household consuming 200 kWh a month, P198 for 300 kWh, P264 for 400 kWh, and P330 for 500 kWh.
The increase was mostly because of higher power generation charges, caused by the 20-day maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya field that forced Batangas natural gas plants supplying Meralco to use more expensive fuel. The shutdown took place from January 28 to February 16.
The shutdown stopped the supply of natural gas to the power plants of South Premiere Power Corp.-Ilijan, Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo, San Gabriel and Avion. These plants supply an aggregate capacity of 3,211 megawatts (MW) to the Luzon power rid, of which 2,565 MW is supplied to Meralco’s franchise area of 5.8 million customers. With the shutdown, these plants had to switch to more expensive liquid fuel so that they could continue supplying power to the grid.
The shutdown coincided with the scheduled maintenance of other power plants such as Sem-Calaca Power Corp. Unit 1 and Quezon Power (Philippines) Ltd., and one block of the Ilijan power plant, which collectively account for 1,185 MW of Meralco’s power requirements.
Also on Thursday, Meralco said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) approved its petition to stagger the incremental liquid fuel cost over three months, from March to May 2017. This staggered scheme will help mitigate the effect of the Malampaya shutdown on consumer bills.
In Meralco’s application filed on January 31, 2017, the incremental liquid fuel cost was estimated at P2.417 billion, using certain assumptions, equivalent to around P0.92 per kWh.
But ERC’s computation reflected a lower total fuel cost of P1.752 billion, or approximately P0.66 per kWh, compared with Meralco’s proposal, or a difference of P665 million. The ERC’s calculation made use of the previous month’s actual fuel cost, while Meralco’s computations were based on forecast fuel cost.
The overall generation charge increased by P0.58 per kWh to PhP4.90 per kWh. This includes one-third of the differential amount computed by the ERC.
There was a slight decrease in the transmission charge of residential customers of P0.01 per kWh. Taxes and other charges went up by a combined amount of P0.09 per kWh.
Meralco’s distribution, supply and metering charges have remained unchanged for 20 months. Meralco does not earn from “pass-through” charges such as the power generation and transmission charges.
Generation charges go to power suppliers, while payment for transmission charge goes to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.