Meralco bills rise for third straight month

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CUSTOMERS of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will see the third straight month of increase in their bills in April due to a hike in generation charge that accounts for more than half of the total, the utility announced on Friday.

Meralco put April’s overall rate at P10.55 per kilowatt-hour (/kWh), P0.2250/kWh more than March’s P10.32/kWh “mainly due to the P0.1773/kWh increase in the generation charge”.

The adjustment translates to an increase of about P45 in the monthly electricity bill of a residential customer using 200 kWh, as well as P67.50, P90 and P112.50 for those using 300 kWh, 400 kWh and 500 kWh, respectively.

Meralco added that “[l]ast month, while electricity rates in March 2018 increased by P0.97/kWh, only a P0.85/kWh increase was implemented in order to cushion the impact of the higher electricity rates on consumers”, with the balance loaded in April.

The generation charge rose to P5.4735/kWh this month from March’s P5.2962/kWh, as charges at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) — which contributed 15% to Meralco’s purchases in the March supply month — increased by P1.6441/kWh “because of the tighter supply conditions” in Luzon’s grid.

“With warmer temperatures, the demand for power in the grid increased by about 357 MW,” Meralco noted.

On Feb. 26, Luzon was placed on “yellow alert” by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) amid thinning reserves due to forced plant outages and restrictions in the supply of natural gas from the Malampaya field that hit the output of several power plants. “Natural gas supply from Malampaya continued to experience restrictions from February 26 to 27, March 3 to 5, and March 8 to 14,” the company said.

Meralco said the higher WESM charges were slightly offset by a P0.1412/kWh dip in the cost of power bought from independent power producers, which contributed 39% to Meralco’s supply, due to improved average plant dispatch.

Charges for electricity from plants under power supply agreements, which contributed 46% to Meralco’s supply, edged up by P0.0077/kWh.

Transmission charge to residential customers similarly inched up by P0.0065/kWh due to higher ancillary service charges billed by NGCP.

With the higher generation charge, taxes and other charges rose by P0.0412/kWh.

“Meralco’s distribution, supply, and metering charges, meanwhile, have remained unchanged for 33 months, after these registered reductions in July 2015,” the company said, adding that it does not earn from the pass-through charges, such as the generation and transmission charges.

“Payment for the generation charge goes to the power suppliers, while payment for the transmission charge goes to the NGCP,” it said.

Taxes and other public policy charges, including the feed-in-tariff allowance, are remitted to the government. — VVS