Meralco rates to go up in April, May, June

by Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2014 08:46 PM | Updated as of Apr 04 2014 06:10 PM

MANILA - Bad news for Meralco consumers: your electricity bills will go up in the next few months.

Power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) estimates that electricity prices will remain high in the months of April, May and June.

Meralco submitted to the ERC its computation for generation charge in April. ABS-CBN obtained a copy of Meralco's computation, showing that the generation charge is estimated to be nearly P6 per kilowatt hour in April compared to March, which will result in an increase of nearly P0.70 per kilowatt hour.

In May, Meralco estimates that the increase will be more than P1.70 per kilowatt hour.

This is why Meralco has asked the ERC to approve contracts with three plants to be able to get additional electricity supply.

But even if these contracts are approved, the generation charge is still high and will still result in higher rates for April and May.

"Hindi pa rin sasapat, talagang magtataas ang generation charge sa Abril, May at June," Francis Juan, ERC executive director, said.

This has led some consumers to ask why are power rates going up if there is enough supply.

One reason, said the ERC, is that many of the power plants that sell in the spot market are using diesel, which is more expensive.

Meralco did not confirm the impending increase in generation charge.

Instead, Meralco met with companies that are joining their "Interruptible Load Program" (ILP). The ILP will only be used when there is a red alert in the grid, meaning there is already a deficiency in power supply to cover demand.

However, consumers will still have to shoulder the increase in electricity rates once the ILP kicks in.

In a briefing, Meralco head for utililty economics Larry Fernandez said for a 100-megawatt power sourced from generators of malls or industries through the ILP, the equivalent increase for each customer using 200 kwh is P0.52.

The idea is, the bigger the draw from the generators through the ILP, the bigger the impact is on the consumers.

For example, if the supply from the generator is increased to 200 MW, the impact on 200 kwh users will be P1.04. If it's 300 MW, the increase will be P1.56. If it's 400 MW, the increase is P2.08. If it's 500 MW, the increase will be P2.60. If it's 600 MW, the spike will be P3.12.

But Energy Undersecretary Raul Aguilos clarifies this is just an option of last resort, meaning it will be used only when electricity supply is not enough.

The DOE said that the use of the ILP would be contingent on the status of the grid and choice of the distribution utility. Among those who can participate in the ILP are malls, large business establishments, and factories.

Based on established protocols, ILP is implemented during a red alert status (minimal power reserve) upon the notice of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and the distribution utilities informing ILP participants to deload from the grid.