CUSTOMERS of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) have a “strong” chance of seeing their electricity bill next month to be lower as it will include the average refund rate of P0.1528 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for “over-recoveries” as ordered by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), a company official said on Thursday.

“Based on initial projections, there is a strong likelihood that power rates for March 2021 will go down, as this will be the second consecutive month of decrease for the year,” Meralco Vice-President and Head of Corporate Communications Joe R. Zaldarriaga said in a Viber message.

He added that the distribution utility was still waiting for the final bills from its power suppliers.

Mr. Zaldarriaga explained that next month’s power rate would include the average refund rate of P0.1528 per kWh based on the firm’s distribution rate “true-up” or Meralco’s actual weighted average tariff, which is derived by dividing its revenues by the total kilowatt-hour sales.

Over-recoveries happen when the actual weighted average rate breached the price cap based on the ERC-approved interim average rate.

Last week, the ERC announced that it had released the order for Meralco to refund P13.89 billion in over-recoveries based on the power firm’s actual weighted average tariff from July 2015 to Nov. 2020.

The refund would take effect starting March. The total amount must be refunded within 24 months or until fully returned to power consumers, according to the commission.

“Meralco’s refund rate will be reflected as a separate line item in the bills of the customers during the refund period,” Mr. Zaldarriaga said.

According to the Meralco executive, the projected decrease in power rates would continue “the downward trend in electricity costs, as overall rates have gone down by more than P1 per kWh since the start of 2020.”

On Feb. 8, Meralco announced that typical households in Metro Manila should expect to see a P14 drop in power rates this month. It attributed the decrease to lower generation charges. It said that the overall power rate in February stood at P8.6793 per kWh, which was P0.0704 per kWh lower than the rate in January.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc.

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