Consumers are in for a double-whammy as power rates are expected to go up this month as pump prices are set to increase this week.
Pump prices are expected to rise again this week, with companies expecting to raise diesel by P3.90 to P4.00 a liter and gasoline by P4.00 to P4.20 a liter.
The increase follows a slight rollback last week, when diesel was cut by P1.15 and gasoline dropped 65 centavos a liter.
Data from the Department of Energy (DOE) show that year-to-date adjustments stand at a net increase of P15.45 per liter for gasoline, P27.35 per liter for diesel, and P21.55 per liter for kerosene.
Consumers, meanwhile, can expect higher electricity bills this month due to high fuel costs and the depreciation of the peso, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said over the weekend.
“While we have yet to receive final billings from our suppliers, we expect an upward adjustment in the generation charge of the May bills,” Meralco vice president and spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said.
Meralco previously warned that the impact of higher coal and oil prices due to volatilities in the world market would be felt in the May rates for consumers.
“There is an upward pressure due to the quarterly repricing of the Malampaya natural gas which already reflects the spike in international crude oil prices in the past months and the peso depreciation,” the official said.
Crude prices have been rising in recent months due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and increased global demand due to widespread mobility as most countries lifted COVID-19 restrictions.
He said this month’s generation charge also includes the first installment of the deferred costs from April equivalent to around P0.15 per kWh.
“We hope that the increase will somehow be mitigated by the refund of distribution-related charges recently ordered by the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) that will be implemented starting this month,” Zaldarriaga said.
ERC has ordered Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to refund its customers over P7.75 billion in over-recoveries on electric bills for 12 months, starting this month.
ERC commissioner and spokesperson Floresinda Digal said residential consumers will experience a higher refund of P0.47 per kWh, as Meralco must implement an average refund of P0.2583 per kWh effective the May billing period.
Meralco’s overall rate for a typical household went up by P0.5363 in April to P10.1830 per kWh from P9.6467 per kWh in March.
Higher charges from its independent power producers (IPPs) and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the trading floor of electricity, triggered the generation charge increase.
Meanwhile, the operations of the country’s power generation, transmission, and distribution sectors remained normal a day before the national and local elections. The DOE has assured the public there will be no outages during the election period.
Meralco also said it will be on full alert until the proclamation of newly elected officials.
“As part of the Energy Task Force Elections, Meralco closely works with other members of the energy industry to ensure that there will be safe, adequate and reliable electricity service for the May 9 elections,” Zaldarriaga said.
Meralco conducted inspections of electricity distribution facilities in more than 3,000 polling precincts, canvassing centers, and vital election sites located within its franchise area.
The company also conducted maintenance activities of its distribution assets including substations, circuits and transformers to make sure they are in optimum condition on election day.
“Historically, Meralco’s franchise area has had no problems during the election period, but we have prepared contingency plans in case of isolated power outages. Our crews and personnel, who are strategically positioned all over our franchise area, will be ready to respond to any emergency. We also have more than 270 mobile generator sets and over 500 flood lights ready to be deployed in case of interruptions,” Zaldarriaga said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the P7.8 billion refund ordered by the ERC would be a welcome relief for Meralco customers.
“Given its mandate of protecting consumer interest as an independent electric power industry regulator, I laud the latest order issued by the ERC to Meralco,” he said.
He said the relief that will be enjoyed by consumers for a period of 12 months can make a difference especially to poor households.
The demand for a refund which is equivalent to 46.69 centavos per kilowatt hour (kWh) is equivalent to P93 for residential customers consuming 200 kWh.
The re-electionist senator also extolled Meralco in assuring its customers immediate compliance starting this month.
“It’s appropriate and timely and shows the company’s due regard to the interests of their consumers especially at a time when the cost of other basic commodities is increasing,” Gatchalian said.
The refund stemmed from ERC’s re-computation of Meralco’s regulatory asset base (RAB) for the period 2012 to 2015, which resulted in over-recoveries or excess collection for the said period.