ERC warned against petitions to hike rates

by Alena Mae S. Flores – June 20, 2017 at 08:31 pm

from Manila Standard Today

Consumer group Citizen Watch cautioned the Energy Regulatory Commission against approving some pending applications that will increase power rates.

“We praise the Commission for issuing this order and upholding the rights of ordinary consumers. We only hope that the ERC continues to uphold the rights of consumers in light of reports of pending applications seeking to increase the fees charged on our monthly bill.” CitizenWatch secretary-general Paco Pangalangan said.

Pending petitions with the ERC includes that of National Transmission Corp., which sought to increase feed-in-tariff allowance rates by P0.10 per kWh.

Citizen Watch said National Grid Corporation of the Philippines also has pending petitions for rate increases to recover expenses arising from force majeure, especially in the fixing of towers and lines damaged by typhoons, earthquakes and other natural calamities.

National Power Corp., meanwhile, has filed for a P0.07 per kWh increase in the universal charge for missionary electrification in 2017.

Citizen Watch also lauded the ERC for approving Meralco’s application to refund around P6.9 billion representing overrecovery for the generation and transmission charges covering January 2014 to December 2016.

“While the refund and lowering of generation costs are good news for the consumers, we fear the additional price increases, especially that of FIT, since it has shown a pattern of continuous increase over the years. If FIT and other fees continue to go up, it will negate the benefits immediately owed to consumers through the refund and price decrease and only further prejudice consumers in the long run,” Pangalangan said.

Electricity rates declined in June also due to the downward movement in the generation charge.

The lower generation costs were due to improved dispatch of independent power producers, supply agreements and lower Wholesale Electricity Spot Market charges.  The WESM is the country’s trading floor of electricity.

Generation charges account for more than half of consumers’ monthly bills.

“The refund is a welcome development for ordinary Filipino consumers who survive from paycheck to paycheck, since these recent ERC orders will lead to a decrease of P285 in the electric bill of the typical household,” Pangalangan said.