March power bills to drop as Meralco implements refund

PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

TYPICAL HOUSEHOLDS in Metro Manila can expect to see a P72 drop in their power bills this month, after Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) on Tuesday announced it will start implementing refunds for its customers.

In a statement, the distribution utility said the overall power rate stands at P8.3195 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in March, P0.3598 per kWh lower than the February rate. This is the lowest overall power rate since August 2017, and the second straight month of the downward adjustment.

Typical households are those that consume 200 kWh, according to Meralco.

This month, those consuming 300 kWh, 400 kWh and 500 kWh would see a P108, P144 and P180 drop in their power bills, respectively.

“Meralco will start implementing the Distribution Rate True-Up refund this month, which is the primary reason for this month’s rate reduction,” the company said.

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The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has directed Meralco to refund its customers P13.89 billion in over-recoveries based on its actual weighted average tariff charges (AWAT) from July 2015 to November 2020. The amount would be returned to its customers over a 24-month period or until it has been fully refunded.

“For residential customers, the refund rate is P0.2761 per kWh and will appear in customer bills as a line item called Dist True-Up,” Meralco said.

At the same time, Meralco said the generation charge dipped by P0.0403 per kWh to P4.3749 in March due to lower charges from the spot market.

“The reduction was due to the higher share of supply from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), which registered the lowest charge among suppliers. Despite an increase in Luzon peak demand…charges from the WESM remained relatively stable at P2.4609 per kWh,” the company said.

Meanwhile, the costs of power supply agreements (PSA) and independent power producers (IPP) increased to P0.0175 per kWh and P0.1338 per kWh, respectively, due to lower average plant dispatch and the depreciation of the peso against the dollar.

Meralco explained that the low WESM charges offset the rise in PSA and IPP costs in March. This month, PSAs and IPPs accounted for 52.5% and 35.8%, respectively.

In March, transmission charges for residential customers inched up by P0.0022 per kWh, while taxes and other charges went down by P0.0456 per kWh.

Meralco’s collection of the universal charge-environmental charge of P0.0025 per kWh remains suspended, in line with a mandate from the ERC.

The utility said that its distribution, supply and metering charges have remained unchanged for 68 months since July 2015. Meralco reiterated that it does not earn from pass-through charges, such as the generation and transmission charges.

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

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Angelica Y. Yang

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