ERC suspends hearing on Meralco power rate hike

From a report by Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 26 2014 09:07 PM | Updated as of May 27 2014 06:37 PM

MANILA – It took less than 15 minutes for the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to suspend the hearings on Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) petition to collect 65 centavos more from consumers to cover the spike in generation and other charges for the January bill.

One of the intervenors in this petition had asked the commission to dismiss Meralco's rate hike plea.

According to the commission, it has to rule first on that motion to dismiss before allowing Meralco to proceed and defend its petition.

“If we pursue, parang sinasabi namin na denied. The additional rate that is being applied for by Meralco in its petition cannot be passed on to the consumers,” said ERC Commissioner Alfredo Non.

Intervenor Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello welcomed the decision, but said it would be a complete victory for consumers if the commission completely junks the petition as soon as possible.

“Talagang very questionable itong mga rate increases na ganito at naipakita din na malaki ‘yung evidence of collusion,” he said.

Meralco, meanwhile, said the adjustment in the generation and other charges is already reasonable after the commission itself ordered a re-calculation of the original amount of more than P5 per kilowatt hour.

Meralco maintains the amount is just a pass-through charge to be remitted to its power suppliers.

“Masyadong malaki ang ibinababa at sa tingin namin, reasonable ang aming sinisingil sa ngayon,” said Meralco’s legal counsel Atty. Ronald Valles.

Meralco's December generation charge spike of P4.15 is still under a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court.


But if the power rate hike is temporarily shelved, it appears that motorists are unlikely to be spared from a fresh round of oil price hike anytime this week.

The estimate increase for gasoline is P0.40 to P0.60 per liter while diesel and kerosene prices will likely go up by P0.10 to P0.30 per liter.

“It’s really market driven, geopolitical,” Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla explained.

Oil firms are required to send advance notice to the Department of Energy before any adjustment can be implemented in the pumps.