09 APRIL 2010
Power rates up this month
Amid prevailing three-hour rotating blackouts, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will charge consumers 93 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kWh) more this month to cover the increase in generation charge.
The generation charge increase is 15.9 percent higher than the previous month’s, from P5.8417 per kWh in March to P6.7699 per kWh in April.
The increase in generation rate is the highest ever, Meralco head for utility economics Ivanna dela Peña said.
It will come on top of the 26.90 centavos per kWh increase in Meralco’s distribution, supply and metering charges as part of the performance based rate (PBR) setting scheme approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The PBR rate increase was supposed to be implemented by Meralco in January but was deferred pending resolution of motion for reconsideration filed by various consumer groups.
In its order released March 31, the ERC allowed Meralco to collect an additional 26.90 centavos per kWh this month, bringing a total average electricity cost increase for the month of April to P1.19 per kWh.
Meralco external communications head Joe Zaldarriaga, however, clarified that the hike in the generation charge is not a Meralco increase.
“The generation charge is a mechanism to reflect the cost of power from Meralco’s various suppliers and since it is a pass-through charge, Meralco does not earn from the generation charge,” he explained.
Dela Peña pointed out that the high prices in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) contributed to the upward adjustment.
The cost of supply from the WESM, which averaged at P11.36 per kWh, was a result of shortage in electricity supply, as there were several plants which were either out due to preventive or emergency maintenance or with de-rated capacity because of the El Niño phenomenon, she said.
The cost of power from the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) still reflected the use of higher-priced condensate fuel by the natural gas plants until March 13 due to the maintenance shutdown of the Camago-Malampaya facility, she added.
This month’s generation charge includes the ERC-provisionally approved amortization of March 2010 under-recovery amounting to seven centavos per kWh.
The computed generation charge for March 2010 was P6.76 per kWh. The P5.8417 per kWh billed to customers in March was a suppressed rate, following deferral of recovery of some costs, Meralco said.
For nine months, starting May 2009, the generation charge component of the electricity bill recorded successive downward adjustments.
“The generation may reflect either an upward or downward adjustment depending on several factors which are beyond the control of Meralco,” Dela Peña said.
On the blackout situation, Meralco president Jose de Jesus confirmed that the power situation in its franchise area worsened with rotating blackouts now longer, to three hours from one hour early this week.
“We have an average deficiency of 660 MW until 7 p.m. Thursday,” De Jesus said.
He blamed the delayed notices from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), which has caused lack of information dissemination to customers.
Energy Secretary Jose Ibazeta said the rotating blackouts are due to maintenance schedules of power plants.
Ibazeta said maintenance was usually done in April and May.
“Since May is a critical period this year, the maintenance of the plants was done earlier than usual to ensure that there will be sufficient power on election day,” he said.
Read article source in The Philippine Star, April 06, 2010