Lawmaker to ERC: Scrutinize 54 centavos power rate hike

A PROGRESSIVE lawmaker called on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to “scrutinize line by line, centavo by centavo the proposed rate hike even if it is supposed to be an automatic increase.”

Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Teddy Casiño issued the statement as consumers are once again forced to deal with a 54-centavo jump in Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) generation charge this month.,

Meralso is reportedly asking for an increase under the generation rate adjustment mechanism (GRAM), which allows distribution companies to pass increases in fuel and generation charges to its customers.

But Casiño said it was ironic that power rates were rising when oil prices are at their lowest levels for the year.

“Power rates are heavily influenced by oil prices since even the price of coal and geothermal energy is pegged to international oil prices. So if oil prices are going down worldwide, power rates should also go down, not up,” he said.

Casiño said the ERC should not accept hook, line and sinker Meralco’s justifications about the spike in power rates in the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM). “As we know in the past, the WESM rates can be manipulated like any other market. Was there collusion among players to increase the rates?” he asked.

The proposed increase means consumers who use 100 kWh per month will see their bills go up by P54. Those who consume 200 kWh will see a hike of P108, while customers using 300 kWh will experience a P162 increase.

“The ERC should be reminded of its mandate to protect the public against abuses by the power monopolies. Even if this is under GRAM, the ERC should use its full powers to investigate whether the rate hike is really necessary or not just a scheme to mulct more profits,” he said.

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