ERC should probe Meralco's power rate hike–Hontiveros

Published June 15, 2021, 3:45 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday, June 15 urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to investigate Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) recent announcement of a power rate hike for June saying it “defies logic” even under the regime of deregulation.

Hontiveros said the ERC must provide a “convincing” report that proves the increase is credible and acceptable before implementing any rate adjustment, adding that as a regulatory body, it should seek first the welfare of consumers.

“We can see that the increase in electricity rates is unfair. Why is there an increase in cost when there is supposed to be an oversupply? The ERC should be able to justify that,” Hontiveros said.

Meralco earlier announced that its residential rate will increase by P0.0798 per kilowatt-hour (/kWh) this month, or equivalent to P16/kWh for those who consume 200 kWh.

The company blamed it on the increase in the cost of power in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), saying WESM charges rose by P1.6322/kWh “due to tight supply conditions in the Luzon grid.”

But the senator said consumers should not be penalized for the tight supply in the Luzon grid.

According to her, generation companies or Gencos, and the national grid operator, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) should admit responsibility.

She also pointed out the Department of Energy (DoE) had revealed there was enough supply of electricity when the grid was placed on yellow to red alert status first week of June.

“Based on DOE’s explanation, supply problem was clearly due not to high trading activities at WESM but to the non-compliance of generating companies and the NGCP in ensuring the availability and security of supply,” she said.

“We always experience summer regularly so the NGCP and Gencos, including the DOE should have been prepared,” she added.

“Our consumers deserve affordable, reliable and uninterrupted power service as mandated by EPIRA,” she said, referring to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA),” she said.

“Let’s ensure that they are getting their money’s worth,” she reiterated.