Meralco to soon announce power rate hike for Oct

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The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is set to increase power rates in October because of a spike in generation charges in September.

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Jose Zaldarriaga, Meralco spokesperson, said on Tuesday that the company will announce the power rate hike this week.

Zaldarriaga said the increase would be slightly higher than expected due to a supply reduction from natural gas (natgas) plants, mainly the Ilijan and Sta Rita plants.

“We will release the actual generation charge this week, though indications point to a slightly higher generation charge,” Zaldarriaga told The Manila Times in a text message.

He said the use of more expensive liquid fuel in lieu of natgas had a negative impact on power rates.

He also cited the higher foreign exchange rate as a contributory factor to the slight upward adjustment.

Zaldarriaga said the September adjustment will reflect on consumers’ electricity bills for October.

“If we will recall, the lowest generation charge for the year was registered in September, which means the generation charge came from a very low base,” he added.

Zaldarriaga issued the statement after the consumer group People Opposed to unWarranted Electricity Rates (POWER) has asked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to make sure that Meralco’s petition to hike rates would go through public hearings.

According to POWER Convenor and former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, Meralco said this month’s rate hike is due to last month’s tight supply.

“But more than 92 percent of Meralco’s supply is already covered by long-term contracts with fixed prices,” Casiño said.

Casiño said they interpret this to mean that it was the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, the trading floor for buying and selling electricity, that dictated the higher prices, which makes it highly suspect.

Meralco announced in August a reduction of 58 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in electricity bills on the back of lower generation and transmission charges.

The reduction translated to a P116 decrease in the September bill of a household consuming 200 kWh a month.

Casiño also claimed that Meralco was able to raise prices automatically since last February, even though it agreed with ERC to hold public hearings.

This following the Supreme Court’s indefinite extension of a temporary restraining order against Meralco’s plea for a P4.15 per kilowatt hour power rate increase in December 2013.

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