MERALCO asked to waive August, September rate hikes


Militant groups are calling on the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) to waive its rate hikes for August and September, saying that the power giant continues to rake in profits even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate was dismayed over MERALCO’s Php0.1055 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) increase, which it announced last week, leading to a Php9.1091/kWh charge this September — the highest for the year. MERALCO’s September hike is also the sixth straight since April.

Zarate believes that the power giant need not increase rates since it is still raking in profits during the pandemic. MERALCO, the country’s largest distribution utility (DU), reported a 32.9% in its net income (attributable to equity holders of parent firm) in the second quarter to Php5.615 billion from Php4.225 billion year-on-year.

The militant lawmaker added that the increase will add more burden to consumers “already electrified by rising cost of living due to the pandemic-aggravated crisis.”

Zarate also again slammed MERALCO for claiming that the generation charge is a mere pass-on charge, when the power distributor owns generation companies (gencos) MERALCO PowerGen Corporation and Global Business Power Corporation. The increase in generation charges was the main cause of the recent rate hikes.

To combat what his group calls as “deceptive” schemes, Zarate, together with fellow Bayan Muna Reps. Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite, filed House Bill 9260 back in April. The proposed measure, which seeks to totally ban cross-ownership between gencos and DUs, is still pending before the House Committee on Energy.