Meralco rates rise in October


Power rates in Metro Manila will rise for the first time in five months, with typical households likely seeing a P24 hike, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said on Friday.

In a statement, the utility company said the overall electricity rate edged up by P0.1212 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to P8.5500 per kWh this month.

“This month’s overall rate is still significantly lower by P0.5362 per kWh compared to last year or October 2019, which was at P9.0862 per kWh. The net rate reduction since the start of the
year is still well over P1 per kilowatt hour,” Meralco said.

Meralco attributed the rate hike to higher generation charges as the Luzon grid saw strong demand and limited supply when lockdown restrictions eased in Metro Manila.

The company said that the Malampaya natural gas restriction between Aug. 28 and Sept. 6 tightened supply, along with the forced outage of several large plants in the first week of September.

This led to this year’s highest Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) offer cap of P32 per kWH on Sept. 5 and 7. WESM is where Meralco sources 11.6% of its supply.

“Higher Luzon demand and more generation capacity on outage resulted in P1.1605 per kWh increase in WESM rate. Had WESM prices remained at their August 2020 levels, the generation charge and the overall rate this month would have decreased by 8-centavos and 14-centavos, respectively,” the company said.

Luzon electricity demand rose after Metro Manila returned to a more relaxed lockdown in September, with peak demand in September reached 10,570 megawatts (MW) compared to August’s peak demand of 10,422 MW.

September was also the first time since the start of the lockdown that demand exceeded its level in the same month a year ago. The September 2019 peak was lower at 10,392 MW.

Power supply agreements charges also went up by P0.1044 per kWH. Transmission charges, taxes, and other charges for residential customers fell slightly by P0.0161 per kWH.

The company said Universal Charge-Environmental Charge collection remains suspended, based on the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) directive.

Meralco last month settled fines “as a gesture of goodwill” after allegedly breaching billing directives from the ERC. The regulator had fined Meralco P19 million for allegedly failing to clearly communicate accurate billing information to customers during the strict lockdown and for breaking its compliance with the installment payment scheme.

The company was also directed to cover P275 million in distribution, supply, and metering charges for two million poor customers with less than 100 kWh monthly power usage.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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