Meralco rates fall for fifth straight month

Consumers in Metro Manila will see lower electricity bills this month. — BW FILE PHOTO

POWER RATES in Metro Manila will go down again this month with typical households likely to see a P12 cut in their bills, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the utility giant said the September electricity rate fell by P0.0623 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to P8.4288/kWh from last month’s level. The rate is its lowest since September 2017.

Meralco power rates continue to drop for the fifth month as the generation charge remains low with supply contracts still relaxed due to the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic on power consumption.

Households consuming 300 kWh, 400 kWh, and 500 kWh can expect their bills to decrease by P18.69, P24.92, and P31.15, respectively

Meralco’s generation charges, which form the bulk of consumer bills, were trimmed by P0.0381/kWh to P4.0860/kWh this month.

The company said its force majeure claims in September saved P463 million, which is equal to P0.1710/kWh. This as supply contract charges, which make up 54.8% of its energy requirements, were down by P0.3032/kWh.

Overall, Meraclo’s savings from relaxed supply contracts reached P2.4 billion since March. Power players are able to invoke a force majeure claim in their supply deals if an unexpected event makes it impossible for them to fulfill contract obligations.

Power charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), where Meralco sources 11.6% of its supplies, were lower at P0.0147/kWh, attributed to the slump in electricity usage during the return to a strict lockdown in the first two weeks of August.

Further, charges from independent power producers, which deliver 33.6% of the utility’s energy needs, slightly increased by P0.0601/kWh because of the drop in average plant dispatch.

Charges for transmission also declined by P0.0112/kWh due to lower ancillary service rates, while taxes and other charges levied on customers dropped by P0.0130/kWh.

Last month, Meralco was ordered by the government to provide subsidies amounting to P275 million to more than two million poor customers with below 100 kWh monthly usage. The amount represents the cut in their distribution, supply, and metering charges, which make up 22.4% of their total bills.

The listed utility was also slapped with a P19-million fine over alleged violations of the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) advisories on billings during the lockdown months.

In a recent House hearing, the company said it is extending until end-October its self-imposed moratorium on sending disconnection notices to customers who are unable to settle their arrears since the lockdown started.

Meralco will also continue to waive the P47 convenience fee imposed on customers who pay their bills via the company’s app or website.

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 a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Adam J. Ang

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