Higher generation costs push up MERALCO April billing

MERALCO power lines

Customers of the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) will experience an increase of Php0.5363 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in their electric bills this April due to higher generation costs. 

The increase would bring this month’s overall rate to Php 10.183/kWh, which is equivalent to an increase of Php107 for a household consuming 200 kWh. 

Higher charges from independent power producers and the Wholesale electricity spot market have caused generation charges to go up by Php0.3987/kWh to Php 5.8724/kWh from Php5.4737 in March.

“This month’s generation charge increase would have been significantly higher, but MERALCO coordinated with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and some of its suppliers to again defer collection of portions of their generation costs to cushion the impact on the customers’ bills,” Meralco Head of Regulatory Management Office Atty. Jose Ronald Valles said. 

The ERC has directed MERALCO to defer the collection of Php300 million worth of generation costs to reduce this month’s generation rate by Php0.11/kWh. Instead, this will be billed on a staggered basis for the next three months with a Php0.15/kWh increase from May until July. 

However, the rate hikes may not end this month, as MERALCO says generation rates will likely increase in the coming months due to the quarterly repricing of natural gas from the Malampaya field. 

Meanwhile, consumer group Power for People Coalition (P4P) has called on the ERC to address the “record-high electricity rates,” saying that it’s their duty to ensure fair power rates and protect consumers from abuse. 

“It is not consumers’ fault that energy companies and MERALCO kept insisting on sourcing electricity from costly energy like coal and gas, or that power generation plants are prone to conking and bringing mayhem to electricity supply and rates. Yet why is it that instead of bringing respite for consumers, ERC seems more interested in protecting the income of power companies?,” P4P convenor Gerry Arances said. 

P4P filed a petition before the ERC to protect consumers from rising power prices and “unreliable power supply from fossil fuel power plants.” It also asked the commission to probe possible pricing plays. 

“With consumers suffering ridiculously high electricity bills and mediocre service, ERC can’t afford to act like it has all the time in the world to take proper action,” Arances further said. 

The consumer group also urged ERC to quickly process and release certificates of compliance for renewable energy projects which to them are not prone to fuel price volatilities and can be easily utilized to address power woes.