• Party-list solon files intervention vs. Meralco new power rate hike before ERC

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    True enough to his promise, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares on Thursday filed a motion to intervene against the proposed power rate hike being proposed by Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) for the months of April, May and June and July.

    Meralco submitted to the ERC its computation for generation charge in April. Meralco’s computation showed that the generation charge is estimated to be almost Php 6 per kilowatt hour in April compared to March, which will result in an increase of almost Php 0.70 per kilowatt hour. For the month of April the power rate increase would be Php 0.89/kWh.

    “Dahil sa karanasan natin na muntik na tayong isahan ng mga energy players na ito, mula ngayon dapat kilatisin na ng mamamayan ang lahat ng petition ng Meralco sa taas singil ng kuryente,. Lalabanan namin ang panibagong power rate increase na ito at padadaanin ito sa butas ng karayom. We question this at ERC and ensure that it not again pulling a fast one on electric consumers like they did in November and December,” said the senior deputy minority leader.

    “The ERC should fulfil their regulatory mandate in their investigation for the November-December increase. In fact, considering that the supply situation during the Malampaya shutdown is worse than now, there is no reason for this latest price increase,” said Colmenares.

    He said that Meralco is saying that they again got electricity from the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) because of the increase in demand and they even entered into an interim power supply agreement (IPSA).

    It signed separate interim agreements with Toledo Power Co. for the supply of up to 28 MW, with an option for an additional 9 MW, and with Panay Power Corp., which will provide 27 MW.

    A similar agreement was executed with 1590 Energy Corp. for the purchase of up to 140 MW in capacity and associated energy output from the 225-MW Bauang Power Plant in La Union.

    “ERC should stop this latest rate increase until they have investigated whether these supply agreements are overpriced.” Colmenares stressed.

    In fact, he said, Meralco even entered into a supply agreement with a power plant involved in the under offering of electricity during the November-December period.

    According to the ERC Report ERC Case 2014-21 dated March 3, 2014, Bauang Power Plant was found to have under offered at least 17.36 kWh.

    Meralco should not have supply contracts with generation companies who are deemed by ERC to have manipulated the WESM and the more reason that the ERC should not grant automatic approval over this latest round of increases,”Colmenares explained.

    “It seems that power rate increases is the default solution for Meralco and even the Department of Energy (DOE) every time there is an increase in the demand for electricity. All they think about is how to extract money from consumers and not how to serve them better. What is worse though is that even with the increase, brownouts may still happen,” he pointed out.

    According to the veteran solon, all these factors are working for the implementation of the DOE’s proposed Interruptible Load Program (ILP).

    The DOE is asking consumers to pay for electricity they did not use. They want us to poor consumers to subsidize billionaire mall owners, while most of us can hardly make ends meet.

    “Hasn’t the DOE learned its lesson? We know for a fact that every summer electricity demand peaks due to the heat, so why hasn’t the department devised ways that is more strategic and does not mean power rate hikes. This is tantamount to blackmailing consumers,” he noted.

    “This could have been solved earlier in this administration if only it has a comprehensive energy plan for the country and constructed more power plants from the start. The Aquino administration should have used the P137 billion Malampaya funds to build more power plants particularly the renewable energy types instead of using it to buy American junk ships,” ended Colmenares. PNA

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