ELECTRICITY USERS in the National Capital Region and surrounding areas will see lower bills for the fourth straight month, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) announced on Tuesday.

The distribution utility said rates for the household segment will go down by P0.4176 per kilowatt-hour (/kWh) to P9.5674/kWh this month from P9.9850/kWh in July.

“The fourth straight month of electricity rate decrease represents a total downward adjustment of almost P1/kWh since May 2019,” Meralco said in a press release.

Those using 200 kWh — who make up Meralco’s biggest single household segment — will see their electricity bills go down by around P84, while those consuming 300 kWh, 400 kWh and 500 kWh can expect their monthly power bill to decrease by P125.28, P167.04 and P208.80, respectively.

Meralco said the power generation charge, which accounts for half of the monthly bill, decreased for August as a result of the lower charges from the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) during the July supply month. It said the generation charge slipped to P4.9620/kWh or by P0.4607/kWh from P5.4227/kWh last month. WESM charges dropped by P6.208/kWh amid improved power supply conditions in the Luzon grid.

The utility said that while the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) placed Luzon on yellow alert in the first half of July — flagging thin reserves — there was no red alert for the whole month. WESM accounted for 11% of the power distributor’s supply.

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.

The cost of power from independent power producers (IPP) rose by P0.0911/kWh.

That was despite the peso gaining strength against the US dollar and lower fuel prices after the quarterly repricing of Malampaya natural gas and continued decline in coal prices.

Meralco said the higher IPP costs were largely due to lower average plant dispatch with the scheduled maintenance in July of modules 20, 30 and 40 of First Gas Power Corp.’s 1,000 megawatt Santa Rita combined-cycle natural gas-fired power plant in Batangas City.

It said the increase was offset as cost of power from the power supply agreements (PSAs) slipped by P0.0656/kWh because of lower fuel prices and the peso’s appreciation against the greenback.

“About 67% of PSA costs are dollar-denominated. IPPs and PSAs provided 41% and 48% of Meralco’s supply needs, respectively,” the listed company said.

Meanwhile, transmission charge for residential customers went up by P0.0334/kWh. Taxes and other charges increased slightly by P0.0097/kWh.

Meralco said its distribution, supply and metering charges have remained unchanged for 49 months after their reduction in July 2015. It reiterated that it does not earn from the pass-through charges, such as the generation and transmission charges.

Payment for the generation charge is remitted to the power suppliers, while the collected transmission charge goes to the NGCP. Taxes and other public policy charges, including the feed-in tariff allowance goes to the government. — V. V. Saulon