Meralco rates to go up slightly in January

Meralco rates to go up slightly in January

By Sheldeen Joy Talavera, Reporter

TYPICAL HOUSEHOLDS served by Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will see a slight increase in their electricity bills this month due to the higher cost of power from suppliers.

In a statement on Wednesday, Meralco said the overall rate would increase by P0.0846 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to P11.3430 in January from P11.2584 in December.

Residential customers consuming 200 kWh must pay about P17 more in their January bill.

Meanwhile, households consuming 300 kWh, 400 kWh and 500 kWh will see their monthly electricity bills go up by P25, P33, and P39, respectively. 

Meralco said the minimal increase was brought by the P0.1136 rise in generation charge to P6.6468 per kWh, mainly due to higher charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and independent power producers (IPP).

The generation charge accounted for about 74% of the total monthly electricity bill.

“We can’t actually have full control on what the generation cost will be based on the prices that will be sold to us both in the market and by our suppliers,” Joe R. Zaldarriaga, Meralco spokesperson and vice-president for corporate communications, said at a briefing.

During the month, WESM charges climbed by P0.5611 per kWh, which was attributed to the “higher average capacity on outage in the Luzon grid.” Some power plants are undergoing scheduled maintenance shutdown this month in preparation for the summer.

The distribution utility said charges from IPPs likewise inched up by P0.1384 per kWh due to higher fuel costs incurred by the Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo plants operated by First Gas in Batangas. The plants used more imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the testing and commission of its LNG terminal.

Charges from power supply agreements (PSA) dropped by P0.1522 per kWh.

“The increases in the WESM and IPPs were mitigated by the reduction from our power supply agreements due to lower cost of the emergency PSA of Meralco with Therma Luzon and South Premiere,” Mr. Zaldarriaga said in Filipino.

Higher excess energy deliveries from some PSAs also contributed to the decrease, Meralco said.

WESM, IPPs and PSAs accounted for 20.5%, 36.5% and 43% for the December supply month.

Meanwhile, transmission and other charges — including taxes and subsidies — fell by P0.0290 per kWh, the power distributor said.

The collection of feed-in tariff allowance (FIT-All) remained suspended, as directed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

“Pass-through charges for generation and transmission are paid by Meralco to the power suppliers and the grid operator, respectively, while taxes, universal charges and FIT-All are all remitted to the government,” Meralco said.

Distribution charge has remained unchanged at P0.0360 per kWh since August 2022.

In preparation for the impact of El Niño, Meralco is encouraging  large business establishments to join its interruptible load program.

“The forecast of DoE (Department of Energy) so far is we will not have red and yellow alerts this year even with the El Niño, but even then, they reminded us to continue with our preparations including attracting more customers to join the interruptible load program,” Lawrence S. Fernandez, vice-president and head of utility economics of Meralco, said.

In 2023, the Philippines was placed under two red alerts and eight yellow alerts, data from the DoE showed. This was lower than the 12 yellow alerts it expected.

Meralco launched last week the bidding for interim power supply agreements (IPSAs) covering 260-megawatt (MW) peaking requirement and 400-MW baseload requirements in preparation for the expected increase in demand during the dry months.

Meanwhile, Meralco is urging qualified consumers, particularly the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, to apply for the lifeline rate to continue getting discounts on electricity bills.

In December last year, the ERC, together with the DoE and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, announced that they will proceed with the full implementation of the program starting on Jan. 1.

The lifeline rate is a subsidy provided to customers with a monthly power consumption of 100 kWh and below.

Qualified consumers will be provided a percentage discount which usually ranges from 20% to 100%, depending on their power consumption.

As of Jan. 5, there are a total of 29,576 approved applications for the program, Meralco data showed.

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.