Meralco customers to see higher bills in February

PHILIPPINE STAR/RUSSELL PALMA

By Sheldeen Joy Talavera, Reporter

RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS in areas served by Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will see higher electricity bills this month due to an increase in the generation charge.

The overall rate will rise by P0.5738 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to P11.9168 per kWh this month from P11.3430 in January, Meralco said in a statement on Thursday.

Typical households consuming 200 kWh will see their monthly electricity bills rise by about P115 this month.

Meanwhile, residential customers consuming 300 kWh, 400 kWh, and 500 kWh will see increases of P173, P231 and P290, respectively, in their February bills.

The generation charge mainly drove the increase in the rate as it went up by P0.4552 to P7.1020 per kWh, Meralco said.

The generation charge accounts for nearly 80% of a consumer’s monthly electricity bill.

The power distributor attributed the rise in the generation charge to higher charges from independent power producers (IPP) and power supply agreements (PSA).

“Charges from IPPs increased by P1.4764 per kWh due to higher fuel costs of First Gas – Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo power plants, mainly resulting from the increased use of imported liquefied natural gas (LNG), which was around 35% to 40% more expensive than Malampaya gas,” Meralco said.

The price of Malampaya gas, the country’s sole natural gas provider, also inched up, Joe R. Zaldarriaga, Meralco’s spokesperson and vice-president for corporate communications, said at a briefing.

“The Malampaya gas price to the Sta. Rita plant increased by almost 12% following the signing of a new gas supply and purchase agreement between First Gas and the [Malampaya] consortium,” he said, adding that the San Lorenzo plant also had an increase of less than 2%.

The peso’s depreciation also contributed to the increase in IPP charges, he added.

The peso closed at P56.275 a dollar on Jan. 31, weakening by 90.5 centavos from its finish of P55.37 on Dec. 29, based on Bankers Association of the Philippines data.

Charges from PSAs went up by P0.1158 per kWh following higher charges from emergency PSAs and the peso’s weakness that affected about 11% of costs that were dollar-denominated.

The increase was mitigated by higher excess energy deliveries from some PSAs, which were priced at a discount, Meralco said.

“The increase, however, of both the IPP and PSA charges were somehow tempered by a P0.41 decrease in the prices of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market or WESM due to the improved supply situation in the grid,” Mr. Zaldarriaga said.

IPPs, PSAs and WESM accounted for 32.8%, 46.8% and 20.4% of the company’s total energy requirements for February.

Transmission and other charges, which include taxes and subsidies, increased to P0.1186 per kWh, reflecting the resumption of the collection of the P0.0364 per kWh feed-in tariff allowance (FIT-All) starting in the February billing month. The Energy Regulatory Commission last month said the lifting of the 13-month suspension of FIT-All collection due to a deficit in the FIT-All fund.

“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,” the power distributor said.

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

Meanwhile, Meralco encouraged large power consumers to join its interruptible load program (ILP) to help ensure that power supply remains sufficient to meet consumer demand.

A total of 103 companies with 528 megawatts of de-loading capacity across its franchise area are enrolled in the program, it said.

“We are banking on the support of large load consumers within the Meralco franchise area to embody the spirit of bayanihan and join the ILP. As we have experienced in the past, the program has been beneficial in ensuring continuity of service even when supply is tight,” Mr. Zaldarriaga said.

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.