by Lenie Lectura – January 8, 2016
from Business Mirror
Power rates for areas served by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) are set to go down in January. In the succeeding months, however, expect the rates to go up.
Electricity rates for January, Meralco announced, will drop by P0.21 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) compared to December rates, translating to a P41.30 reduction in overall electricity bill for a typical household consuming 200 kWh. For those with an average monthly consumption of 300 kWh, a downward net adjustment of P61.95 would be reflected in the January bill. For households consuming 400 kWh and 500 kWh, the corresponding price cuts of P82.60 and P103.25, respectively, would be reflected.
Meralco, however, warned of higher power rates in the succeeding months, as more power plants are scheduled for maintenance shutdowns.
“Rates are bound to be affected by the simultaneous scheduled plant outages and the expected increase in demand due to the reported impact of El Niño,” said Meralco Spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said in a text message.
On Wednesday, the BusinessMirror reported that eight power plants in Luzon, with a combined capacity of over 4,500 megawatts (MW), are scheduled to implement maintenance shutdowns this year.
Meralco announced on Thursday that the reduction in the overall rates in January was primarily due to the generation-charge component, which decreased by P0.21 per kWh from last month. At P3.92 per kWh, January’s generation charge is the lowest since January 2010.
Generation charge is the largest component of an electric bill.
Meralco said power plants under the power-supply agreements (PSAs) registered a decrease of P0.49 per kWh. This was mainly due to the reduction in capacity fees of Pagbilao, Sual, Calaca and Ilijan, which offset the higher charges from the independent power producers (IPPs) and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). This reduction in capacity fees is due to the annual reconciliation of outage allowances under the contracts approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
The average rate of the IPPs increased slightly by P0.04 per kWh. This was due primarily to the lower dispatch of Quezon power and San Lorenzo power plants.
Meanwhile, charges from the WESM registered an increase of P0.35 per kWh, largely caused by billing adjustments from prior periods. The share of IPPs, PSAs and WESM to Meralco’s total power requirements stood at 48.7 percent, 46.7 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.
Aside from the drop in generation charge, Meralco also reported that taxes decreased by P0.02 per kWh. Transmission charge, on the other hand, registered an increase of P0.02 per kWh due to lower load factor.
“Consumption was lower in December, which resulted in lower load factor and consequently increased the transmission charge per kilowatt-hour,” Zaldarriaga said, when sought for comment.
Meralco’s distribution, supply and metering charges remain unchanged, after registering a reduction last July. Meralco reiterated that it does not earn from the pass-through charges, such as the generation and transmission charges. Payment for the generation charge goes to the power suppliers, while payment for the transmission charge goes to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.
This month’s rate adjustment, which stood at P8.40 per kWh, is lower by P1.27 per kWh, compared to January 2015, and is the lowest since January 2010.
The power plants that are scheduled to go on shutdown, or are still on shutdown for this month, are the Calaca 1 (October 30,2015 to January 24, 2016); Calaca 2 (November 19, 2015 to January 15, 2016), Masinloc 1 (December 21, 2015 to January 31, 2016); Santa Rita Module 40 (January 9 and 10); and Santa Rita Module 30 (January 16 and 17).
Next month Calaca 1 is again scheduled to go offline, from February 1 to 7; Santa Rita Module 10, from February 11 to 15; and Quezon Power, from February 16 to March 15.
For March and April, only Masinloc 1 and Pagbilao 1 are scheduled to shut down, from March 1 to 12, and April 1 to 30, respectively.
From June to September, the following power plants will not run: San Lorenzo Module 50 (June 11 and 12); San Lorenzo Module 60 (June 18 and 19); Santa Rita Module 40 (June 15 to 29); Santa Rita Module 30 (July 2 and 3); Santa Rita Module 20 (July 23 to August 26); Ilijan 2 (July 31-August 3); Calaca 1 (August 1 to September 14); Ilijan 2 (August 4 to September 3); and Santa Rita Module 30 (August 27 to September 30).
From October 1 to November 30, Sual 1 will shut down again. At the same time, San Lorenzo Module 60 will also be out from October 1 to 5, while San Lorenzo Module 50 is from October 6 to 10.
Calaca 2 is again set to undergo maintenance from November 27 to January 10, 2017; San Lorenzo Module 50, on December 17 and 18; and San Lorenzo Module 60, from December 24 and 25.
Meralco Head of Utility Economics Lawrence Fernandez said these are among the plants with which the utility firm has contracts.
Based on this list, more than 700 MW of capacity from three power facilities in Batangas are on scheduled outage for the month of August. These are the 190-MW Ilijan combined-cycle power plant 2; the 330-MW Calaca coal-fired thermal power plant 1; and the Santa Rita combined-cycle natural-gas plant Module 20, with a generating capacity of 255.7 MW.
For September, there is almost 600 MW of power-generating capacity coming from Santa Rita Module 30 (265.5MW) and Calaca 1 that would be shaved off from the grid.
The 647-MW Sual 1 Power Station in Pangasinan will also be out in October and November this year.
“As mentioned by Mr. Oscar Reyes, the scheduled outages are bunched up in January and the months of August and September, with one unit of Sual going out from October to November,” Fernandez said via e-mail.