Feed-in-Tariff to negate benefits of Meralco refund – consumer group

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Despite the positive news brought about the by Meralco refund, consumers should still expect to pay up the same, if not more for their electricity as increased charges from the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) would likely “negate” the discount in the power bill.

Consumer rights group CitizenWatch said while the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) approved Meralco’s refund, to be reflected in the electricity billing for the months of June, July, and August; the expected discount will be substantially offset by the increase in FIT rates.

“It (FIT) will negate the benefits immediately owed to consumers through the refund and price decrease owed to consumers through the refund and price decrease and only further prejudice consumers in the long run,” CitizenWatch Secretary General Paco Pangalangan said.

Among other filed petitions with the ERC, Meralco was recently given the approval to recover around P6.9 billion representing the generation and transmission charges for the period of January 2014 to December 2016.

Another factor for the three-month decrease in electricity fees is the recent downward movement in the generation charge, which is due to the improved dispatch of IPPs and PSAs and lower WESM charges.

These result to around a P285 cut for the typical household, accounting for more than half of consumers’ monthly billing statements.

“The refund is a welcome development for ordinary Filipino consumers who survive from paycheck to paycheck,” said Pangalangan.

However, pending petitions with the Commission includes the National Transmission Corporation’s (TRANSCO) seeking to increase the FIT rates by P0.10/kwh (from P0.12 to P0.22 kilowatt per hour).

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) also filed at least 15 pending petitions for rate increases for multiple expense recoveries from force majeure, particularly reconstruction of towers and lines damaged by natural calamities including typhoons and earthquakes.

NGCP’s petitioned rates total to P0.007 kilowatt per hour (kWh) for Luzon; P0.19 kWh for Visayas; and P0.004 kWh for Mindanao.

The National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), on the other hand, has appealed a P0.07 kWh of universal charge for missionary electrification (UCME) from consumers in off-grid areas this year.

“We only hope that the ERC continues to uphold the rights of consumers in light of reports of pending applications seeking to increase the fees charged on our monthly bill,” Pangalangan said.

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