THE cost of electricity will again go up next month because the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) allowed the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to collect unrecovered generation costs and other charges.
The additional power rate of P0.0418 will be charged in Meralco’s next billing cycle.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (SEC), Meralco said it was directed by the ERC to collect from its customers unrecovered generation cost incurred from November 2003 to January 2004 amounting to P746 million, equivalent to P0.0207 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
The ERC also allowed Meralco to collect the net under-recoveries amounting to P1.53 billion equivalent to P0.0198 per kilowatt (kWh) exclusive of carrying charge for the period January 2011 to December 2011.
The amount will be charged starting the next billing cycle until the full amount have been collected.
The power firm was also given the go signal to collect the generation cost under-recoveries amounting to P1.69 billion equivalent to P0.0219 kWh as well as the transmission cost under-recoveries amounting to P255 million equivalent to P0.0219 kWh, which is equivalent to P0.0033 kWh for residential customers.
Meralco, however, was directed to reimburse its customers its systems loss cost over-recoveries amounting to P452 million equivalent to P0.058 kWh.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said President Benigno Aquino 3rd will go over the report of the ERC on the alleged abuse committed by power generators in 2013 to manipulate electricity rates.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the ERC report will be reviewed by the president before they can make any comment on calls for a refund of some P17 billion that was raked in by Meralco.
“I recall this was the incident that happened two years ago, in December. But that being said, we would like to see the entire report first. I don’t recall that it was submitted to the President before he left for Japan so I imagine that the President would have to personally see the results before we can make any further comment,” Valte said.
On Tuesday, the ERC Investigation Unit (ERC IU) said it found Meralco and 12 other power producers liable for market abuse. Once proven, they could be slapped with penalties ranging from P50,000 to P50 million.
With Malampaya out of service in 2013, Meralco claimed it was compelled to source power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) at higher rates. The higher cost of production was reflected as higher bills for consumers.
In a statement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Meralco should refund its clients.
“Meralco should disclose the status of the money they collected which was based on questionable rates and now the subject of findings of market abuse. The ERC should immediately address this refund issue. Until when are we going to wait?” Reyes asked.
“The failure of the WESM is the result of a power industry controlled by a few corporations, where the market is driven by overlapping corporate interests and where government intervention to protect consumers is always the exception rather than the rule,” he pointed out.
The Bayan leader explained that majority of the customers have already paid their electricity bills reflecting the first tranche of the record-high rate hike of P4.15 per kilowatt hour (kWh) before the Supreme Court (SC) issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the hike.
“The situation is unjust. Why should consumers be made to suffer when it was the gencos and Meralco who violated the WESM rules? Why should we be denied a refund arising from Meralco’s collection of an additional P2/kWh in December 2013?” Reyes said.
The P4.15 per kWH increase was supposed to be implemented in three tranches in December 2013, and February and March 2014.