ERC says current Meralco rates to stay as body yet to receive Supreme Court decision

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 07 2022 04:21 PM

MANILA - The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Thursday said it has yet to implement the Manila Electric Company's (Meralco) power rate hike as it has yet to receive a copy of the Supreme Court's decision favoring the power distribution company.

The high court earlier allowed Meralco to impose a staggered power rate hike amounting to P22.64 billion.

"Ang kabutihan, itong Supreme Court decision, hindi pa nabibigyan ng pormal na kopya ang ERC at dahil hindi pa nase-serve ng Supreme Court sa ERC, hindi pa yan naipapatupad," ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera told state television PTV.

"Kung naserve na naman, ang ERC ay may option. Puwede mag-file ng motion for reconsideration so hindi pa rin ito maipapatupad," she said.

(The good thing about the Supreme Court decision is that the ERC has yet to receive a formal copy, and since it has yet to be served, we cannot implement the order. Once it is served, the ERC has an option. We can file a motion for reconsideration so it will not be implemented.)

The rate hike would mean an additional charge of P9.10 per kWh in December 2013, but Meralco asked for a staggered billing scheme, imposing a P7.90 per kWh increase in December 2013 and collecting the remaining P3 billion in its February 2014 billing. 

Under a more recent order, the ERC directed Meralco to refund some P21 billion, which will translate to a rate reduction of P0.86 per kWh.

Devanadera said the refund was not due to overcharging.

"Ang ERC kapag nagco-compute ng rates, yun ay projected para sa ilang tao, mga assumptions, mga estimates lang ang pinagbabatayan," she said.

"Ang ERC babalikan niya ang kaniyang projection, ang kaniyang estimate batay sa aktwal na pinababayaran ng Meralco o ng other distribution utilities," she said.

(The ERC computes its rates based on projection and assumptions. The ERC will go back to these projections and estimates based on the actual payments made to Meralco and other distribution utilities.)

The high cost of fuel in recent months is one of the reasons why power rates are expected to remain high despite the refund this month, the ERC chief said.

"'Yung cost ng fuel, ipinapasa din yan. Ngayon, mayroon tayong mga factors na pandaigdigan na nagpataas ng ating fuel kaya ang taas din ng kuryente," she said.

"Sa kotse nga natin ramdam na ramdam natin ang pagtaas, e lalo na sa mga power plants," she said.

(The cost of fuel is also passed on. Now we have global factors that push our fuel prices up, which in turn raises the cost of power. If car owners can feel the impact of higher fuel prices, all the more will power plants.)

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