SC asked to reconsider MERALCO power rate hike

supreme court

Several party-list groups, led by Bayan Muna party-list, have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reconsider its affirmation ruling on the validity of the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) decision allowing the Manila Electric Co.’s (MERALCO)  Php 22.6 billion rate hike application in 2013. 

In its motion for consideration filed to the SC on Wednesday, the group said that the ERC order granted was not for the interest and protection of the consumers. 

Bayan Muna said that the “highest power hike in history” is not the consumer’s fault, but they will bear “this great burden and ultimately pay for the rate hike as part of our electricity bill.”

MERALCO applied for the rate increase in 2013 after the Malampaya gas-to-power project underwent maintenance shutdown, which led the power distributor to buy more expensive supplies from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). 

Under the SC ruling, MERALCO is allowed to implement an additional charge of Php 4.15 per kilowatt hour (kwh), SC associate justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier said in a report by Business World. 

Bayan Muna pointed out that the ERC approval violates Republic Act (RA) 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. Under the law, the ERC is mandated to enforce regulations to ensure rational pricing of electricity. 

ERC is also tasked to “To protect the public interest as it is affected by the rates and services of electric utilities and other providers of electric power.” 

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said that “there is a failure of regulation” and that the consumers’ welfare is at the mercy of both power players, and how “well or badly” the ERC would exercise its vast powers.