RESIDENTIAL customers in areas served by Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) can expect to pay more for electricity this month, with typical households consuming 200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) getting billed higher by P78 or P9.9365 per kWh from P9.5458 per kWh in August.

This was caused by an increase in generation charges brought on by the peso depreciation, Lawrence S. Fernandez, Meralco’s vice-president and head of Utility Economics, said at a briefing on Thursday.

The monthly power bills for homes that consume 300 kWh, 400 kWh, and 500 kWh will go up by P117, P156, and P195, respectively.

For the September billing, the generation charge went up by P0.3581 to P6.9393 per kWh from P6.5812 per kWh in August.

Mr. Fernandez said the September generation charge was based on the end-August exchange rate of P56.15 per dollar.

“If the peso continues to weaken, there will be a corresponding impact. It is part of the cost of the power plants,” Meralco Spokesperson and Head of Corporate Communications Joe R. Zaldarriaga said.

The company said charges from independent power producers rose by P0.8026, while power supply agreements (PSAs) increased by P0.3316 per kWh.

Mr. Zaldarriaga also noted that the ongoing gas supply restrictions from Malampaya gas field contributed to the increase in electricity rates.

“The ongoing Malampaya gas supply restriction necessitated the increased use of more expensive alternative fuel by First Gas Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo to ensure continuous supply,” Meralco said in a statement.

According to Mr. Zaldarriaga, Meralco has already solicited offers from various suppliers if the power arm of San Miguel Corp. terminates its PSAs.

“Meralco will enter into an emergency power supply agreement to replace the supply that may be lost from the termination of those two contracts,” he said.

On Thursday, Meralco shares closed 0.69% lower at P315.20 apiece.

Meralco is the largest power distribution company and the largest private-sector utility in the Philippines. Its 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. — Ashley Erika O. Jose