Group asks ERC to stop power rate hike

THE progressive party list group Anakpawis on Wednesday asked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to stop the impending increase in electricity rates this January 2013.

In a statement, Anakpawis vice chairperson Fernando Hicap said “The ERC is not doing its’ job to stop first-rate profiteers from exacting sweat and blood from consumers. It is about time for the energy regulatory agency to act decisively, defy the deregulated regime in the power sector and keep public interest.”

Hicap urged the ERC to urgently, indefinitely and unconditionally suspend the planned hike in electricity cost this year and subject the proposal for power rate hike to public scrutiny.

He also asked the ERC to suspend if not abolish the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) and instead push regulation despite the existence of Energy Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

“Public interest is at stake here, and ERC can range this concern of national importance against profiteering and corporate exploitation in the name of millions of consumers who are daily, weekly, monthly and yearly electrified by this all season increase in the cost of electricity in the country,” said Anakpawis party list.

According to a report, electricity rates will increase this month due to reduced performance of coal and natural gas plants, and generation of power output from the more expensive oil-fed facilities increased.

Based on data from the WESM, the December 2012 load-weighted average price (LWAP) ended up 64 centavos a kilowatt-hour higher than the LWAP in November 2012.
Meralco argued it does not earn from generation charges and that payments for the generation charge which are pass-through costs for Meralco go to power producers such as Napocor (National Power Corporation) and the independent power producers (IPPs) linked to Meralco and the WESM. It said, Meralco’s own rates– representing distribution, supply and metering charges account for only 16 percent of the total electricity bill .

Last December, Meralco consumers got reprieve from higher electricity cost as generation charges were cut by 31 centavos a kWh and the transmission charge to residential customers went down by 11 centavos per kWh due to the lower ancillary rates of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.

The lower generation and transmission charges resulted in a drop of 4 centavos a kWh in the system loss charge last month.

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