ERC assures consumers of staggered rate hike

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 09 2014 03:54 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2014 04:15 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) assures consumers it will see to it that the potential increases in electricity rates are staggered and will have minimal impact.

ERC executive director Atty. Francis Juan said if the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of the power rate hike is lifted and the increases are upheld -- P4.15 per kilowatt hour (kwh) in December and P4 per kwh in January -- Meralco cannot automatically recover these and will still need the approval of the regulator.

Juan said the commission will take into consideration the plight of consumers, meaning a staggered implementation.

The ERC has also expressed concern especially if the situation is further prolonged where Meralco is not able to collect the correct amount of generation charge to pay its suppliers.

Juan said the current situation may jeopardize investments in power generation.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association has yet to comment on the Supreme Court order to include some of their members in the case filed by the Makabayan group that led to the issuance of the TRO.

The order, in effect, paves the way for the inclusion of these power suppliers to the TRO so that power producers cannot force Meralco to pay the actual generation charge which is more than what Meralco collects from its customers.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, meanwhile, lauded the SC’s decision to include power generation companies and government in the power rate hike case.

“Tama ang ginawa ng Supreme Court against the power generation companies dahil sila ang puno't dulo nito. We will immediately comply with the SC order and implead these power generators," he said.

"We will also pray for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against these generation companies from exacting and collecting their incredibly high generation charge to stop them from threatening the public with interest payments for these charges. The Supreme court is also correct in ordering the Solicitor General to appear in the case because the government thru the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is one of the most guilty parties in this attempt to impose the largest power rate hike in history,” he added.