MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) is raising its rates this month, but the country’s largest distribution utility said only P0.85 out of the P0.97-per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) increase will be implemented “to cushion the impact of higher electricity rates on consumers.”

In a statement, Meralco said this brings the overall rate to P10.32 per kWh in March, from February’s P9.47 per kWh.

With this, households consuming 200 kWh a month will see a P170 increase in their monthly bills. Households that consume 300 kWh, 400 kWh, and 500 kWh will see an increase of P255, P340 and P425, respectively, in March.

The remaining 12 centavo per kWh increase will be reflected on the April billing.

From P4.6548 per kWh in February, Meralco said the generation charge for March will be P5.2962 per kWh.

“Contributing to the generation charge increase were higher charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), which increased by P1.4441 per kWh, because of tighter supply conditions in Luzon,” the utility said.

“The demand for power in the grid grew by around 366 MW in February due to warmer temperatures, while around 1,000 MW of generating capacity went on scheduled maintenance outage,” it added.

The share of WESM purchases to Meralco’s total requirement this month stood at 19%.

Accounting for 35% of the total, cost of power from Independent Power Producers rose by P0.2814 per kWh due to the annual scheduled maintenance outage of Quezon Power for February, as well as the continued depreciation of the peso.

Meralco said charges from plants under Power Supply Agreements went down by P0.3634 per kWh due to improved average plant dispatch. This accounted for 46% of Meralco’s total energy requirement.

Transmission charge to residential customers went up by P0.0503 per kWh due to an increase in ancillary service charges by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.

Taxes and other charges went up by P0.1583 per kWh this month.

“Meralco’s distribution, supply, and metering charges, meanwhile, have remained unchanged for 32 months, after these registered reductions in July 2015,” the company added.

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. — Janina C. Lim