DISTRIBUTION utility Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) announced on Thursday a slight increase in the overall electricity rates for March to P10.4961 per kilowatt-hour (/kWh), up by P0.0894/kWh from the P10.4067/kWh in February.
Meralco, which earlier reported a 4.6% rise in its customer base to 6.61 million, said the increase translates in an P18 rise in the total monthly bill of a typical household consuming 200 kWh. Those using 300 kWh, 400 kWh and 500 kWh can expect increases of P26.82, P35.76 and P44.70, respectively.
The increase in power rates this month comes despite the lower cost of electricity under power supply agreements (PSA), which brought down the generation charge. The decline failed to offset the higher electricity cost at the spot market and the rise in other charges, including transmission cost and government taxes.
“From P5.8939/kWh last month, generation charge for March went down to P5.5973/kWh, a decrease of P0.2966/kWh,” the country’s biggest distribution utility said.
It said the P1.0768/kWh decrease in PSA charges was because of the strengthening of the peso against the US dollar, lower fuel prices and higher average plant dispatch.
Meralco said unit one of the First Gen Corp.’s 414-megawatt San Gabriel power plant returned to normal operations in February after the scheduled maintenance outage in January.
“The share of PSAs to Meralco’s total requirement this month was at 48%,” the listed company said, referring to the February supply month whose charges are carried in March bills.
In contrast, charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) rose by P0.5178/kWh because of the tighter supply conditions in Luzon “with higher demand for power and more frequent plant outages this month,” Meralco said.
The cost of power from the independent power producers (IPPs) was higher by P0.0549/kWh due to the lower average plant dispatch. Quezon Power Philippines Ltd. was on scheduled maintenance outage from Jan. 18 to Feb. 8.
WESM and IPPs provided 12% and 40% of Meralco’s supply requirement, respectively.
Meanwhile, the transmission charge for residential customers rose by P0.0288/kWh after the higher ancillary service charge imposed by privately owned National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Taxes and other charges also went up by P0.3572 after the completion of the refund last month on the universal charge-stranded contract costs.
“Meralco’s distribution, supply, and metering charges, meanwhile, have remained unchanged for 44 months, after these registered reductions in July 2015,” the company said, reiterating that it does not earn from the pass-through charges, such as the generation and transmission charges.
Generation charge payments go to power suppliers, while payment for the transmission charge goes to NGCP. Taxes and other public policy charges like the universal charge and feed-in tariff allowance are remitted to the government.
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. — VVS