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Lawmaker questions Meralco rate hike

BAYAN Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Friday questioned the projected P0.92/kilowatt Meralco power rate hike for February and March, respectively, because of the supposed unsteady price of fuel.

“Oil price fluctuations and foreign exchange discrepancies are business risks that distribution utilities like Meralco should take and not pass on to consumers,” Zarate said. 

“Besides the fuel being used for power production now had been purchased at least a month ago and the price of oil then was much lower,” Zarate added.

Zarate also wondered why Meralco already had a power rate computation for March when billing for that month ends only in Feb. 26; and it is only Feb. 11 today.

“How can they pre-compute impact if they don’t even have billings from suppliers? May bolang kristal po ba ang Meralco para dito? [Do they have a crystal ball here?]” Zarate asked.

“How (was) Meralco able to put cost ahead on market forces play like the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) when even companies trading in the market compute them on a daily and hourly basis? The supposed Feb. P.92 increase can (in) no way be attributed to Malampaya shutdown because billing cycle ended last Jan. 26 -- two days before the shutdown,” Zarate added.

Zarate also reiterated his call for a review of the alleged “midnight” Power Supply Agreements entered into by Meralco with its mostly related companies.

“There is really something fishy about these increases being floated. This is the main reason why we want to review the Meralco contracts,” Zarate, author of House Resolution 566, said.  

Zarate said a congressional inquiry was in order to find out “if there are unwarranted cost recoveries bundled there; we cannot just take their data at face value considering what happened during the 2013 Malampaya shutdown.”

“As it is, Meralco should stop conditioning the minds of consumers for power rate hikes. We are calling on the people to protest and stop these unwarranted power rate hikes,” Zarate stressed.

Topics: Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate , Meralco power rate hike
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