Power rates to go down in October

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Meralco linemen

TYPICAL HOUSEHOLDS can expect their monthly electricity bill to go down by P19 in October after distribution utility Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) announced on Monday another cut in the overall rates due to a reduction in power generation charges.

“We are pleased to announce that despite prices of other basic goods and commodities generally going up, Meralco customers can find some relief in the decrease of power rates these past two months, as this goes against the current trend that we see with other products,” said Joe R. Zaldarriaga, Meralco’s spokesperson and head of its public information office.

Meralco said the overall electricity rates once again went down, with this month’s reduction placed at P0.0966 per kilowatt-hour (/kWh) to P9.9766/kWh from P10.0732/kWh in September.

The decrease means 200-kWh households, which account for the bulk of residential customers, will enjoy a P19.32 cut in their power bills while those consuming 300 kWh, 400 kWh and 500 kWh will see a reduction of P28.98, P38.64 and P48.30, respectively.

Publicly listed Meralco said the lower power supply agreement (PSA) charges brought down the generation charge for the month.

For October, the generation charge fell by P0.0811/kWh to P5.1908/kWh from P5.2719/kWh last month.

The company said the decrease was mainly because of a P0.2790/kWh decline in the charges of PSAs. This was despite the weakening of the peso against the US dollar and the scheduled maintenance shutdown of the first unit of the Sual plant.

The Sual plant started its outage on Aug. 31, but the cost of power from power supply contracts dropped because of the higher dispatch of the Masinloc and Ilijan power plants. The share of PSA purchases to Meralco’s requirement for the month was 36%.

With the lower PSA charges, the increase in the cost of power at P0.0414/kWh from independent power producers (IPP) due to the weakening peso was offset. Meralco said the share of IPP purchases to its total requirement in October was at 41%.

Meanwhile, the cost of power from the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) also went up although only at P0.2981/kWh. The rise was because of the lower availability of power plants in the Luzon grid. WESM purchases accounted for 23% of Meralco’s requirement for the month.

Other charges slipped except transmission charge, which rose by P0.0111/kWh for residential customers after higher ancillary service charges of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). Taxes and other charges dropped by P0.0266/kWh in October.

“Meralco’s distribution, supply, and metering charges, meanwhile, have remained unchanged for 39 months, after these registered reductions in July 2015,” the utility said as it reiterated that it does not earn from pass-through charges, such as the generation and transmission charges.

Payment for the generation charge is remitted to the power suppliers, while payment for the transmission charge goes to privately owned NGCP.

Taxes and other public policy charges, including the feed-in tariff allowance or FiT-All, are remitted to the government.

Shares in Meralco fell by P14.40 or 4% to close at P341.60 each on Monday.

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 interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Victor V. Saulon