RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will see higher bills in March, as generation charges went up due to an increase in spot market prices and the peso depreciation.
In a statement on Thursday, Meralco said the overall rate for a typical household slightly inched up by P0.0625 per kilowatt-hour (/kWh) to P9.6467/kWh, from February’s P9.5842/kWh.
A residential household consuming 200 kWh will see a P13 increase in the monthly power bill. Households consuming 300 kWh, 400 kWh, and 500 kWh, will see monthly bills rise by P19, P25, and P31, respectively.
“The overall increase in this month’s power rates would have been higher if not for the implementation of an additional Distribution Rate True-Up refund,” Meralco said, noting customers will see a total of P0.4684/kWh refund in their bills this month.
Meralco said the generation charge jumped by P0.2780 to P5.4737/kWh, as charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) increased.
WESM charges rose by P13.4211/kWh in February due to higher demand and the scheduled maintenance outage of Quezon Power and First Gas-San Lorenzo plants. Lower dispatch from these two plants also drove up charges from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) by P0.1625/kWh.
“Peso depreciation against the US dollar also contributed to the increase in IPP costs, since around 97% of these costs are dollar-denominated,” Meralco said.
Charges from Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) also jumped by P0.1510/kWh as the First NatGas-San Gabriel plant’s dispatch was affected by the Malampaya facility’s inability to supply sufficient natural gas.
Meralco noted the lower excess energy deliveries, which are priced at a discount, also contributed to the increase in PSA costs.
In February, WESM, IPPs and PSAs contributed 13.9%, 32.7%, and 53.4%, respectively, to Meralco’s energy requirement.
“This month’s generation charge increase would have been significantly higher, but Meralco took the initiative to cushion the impact in the bills of its customers by coordinating with some of its suppliers to defer collection of portions of their generation costs,” the company said, adding this will lower customers’ bills by 18 centavos per kWh.
These deferred charges will subsequently be billed on a staggered basis over the next three months.
Meanwhile, transmission charges, taxes, and other charges slipped by P0.0232/kWh. The collection of the Universal Charge-Environmental Charge of P0.0025/kWh remains suspended.
Distribution, supply, and metering charges, which are the only costs that go to Meralco, have remained unchanged since July 2015.
HIGHER RATES LOOMMeralco Vice-President and Head of Corporate Communications Agapito Joe D. Zaldarriaga said at a press conference that despite the higher petroleum prices, Meralco rates still recorded a net decline of 1% this month compared with December 2021.
However, Meralco Vice-President and Head of Utility Economics Larry S. Fernandez warned that the impact of soaring pump prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine war will be felt by consumers in May.
He noted Meralco’s biggest source of supply is the plant that uses Malampaya’s natural gas.
“The past weeks, world crude oil prices are increasing [and] this will eventually be reflected on the cost of Malampaya natural gas and thereafter, on the generation cost. For now, we won’t feel it as Malampaya price is being updated quarterly and will next be updated on April and will be reflected on the May generation charge,” Mr. Fernandez said.
Meralco also advised consumers to conserve energy especially in summer when power demand typically surges up to 40%.
“We’ll have to see what the situation will be for the April generation charge, if there’ll be more factors [like] spot [market] prices, foreign exchange rate, power plant outages — we’ll have to see what the situation will be to determine the final cost,” Mr. Fernandez said.
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 an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Marielle C. Lucenio