By Joe Zaldarriaga

Good news for Meralco customers as overall rates lower this month

The summer and dry season in the Philippines is unlike any other. Over the past few years, heat index has been reaching the dangerous levels of 42 to 51 degrees Celsius, where heat-related illnesses such as stroke and cramps are said to be probable.

Last year, the Philippines registered a heat index as high as 53 degrees in Pangasinan. This year, the hottest temperature has so far jumped to 47 degrees in the town of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro and in Butuan City in Agusan del Norte.

It therefore is no wonder, why throngs of tourists flock to the beach to refresh during summer. The same period is also when power demand spikes from 10 to 40 percent, amid the increased use of cooling appliances especially air-conditioning units that leads to higher electricity bills.

Fortunately, this month will be less of a burden for the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) customers after the distribution utility announced a reduction in its overall rate this April by PHP0.1180 to PHP11.3168 per kWh from the PHP11.4348 per kWh registered in March. For residential customers consuming 200 kWh, the adjustment is equivalent to a decrease of around PHP24 in their total electricity bill.

According to Meralco, the overall rate reduction was due to lower generation charge which went down to PHP7.3295 from PHP7.3790 per kWh, even with the collection of the first installment of deferred generation costs amounting to P0.20 per kWh.

It can be recalled that last month, Meralco coordinated with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and its power suppliers to implement a staggered collection of around PHP1.1 billion in March generation charges to cushion the increase in the overall rate for its customers.

During last month’s billing, Meralco sourced 32 percent of its energy requirement from the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM), whose charges during the period were lower by PHP1.0462 per kWh due to improved supply situation in the Luzon grid, as average plant capacity on outage decreased to around 235 MW.

In addition, other energy sources such as Power Supply Agreements (PSA) also went down by PHP0.0741 per kWh, while those from Independent Power Producers increased by PHP0.6710 per kWh.

All other charges, including transmission charge, taxes and subsidies, also registered a net reduction of PHP0.0685 per kWh.

According to Meralco, collection of the Feed-In Tariff Allowance (FIT-All) remains suspended following the issuance of the ERC Resolution extending the deferral for another six months starting last month. Pass-through charges for generation and transmission are paid to the power suppliers and the grid operator, respectively, while taxes, universal charges, and FIT-All are all remitted to the government.

Distribution charges, which are the only charges paid to Meralco, have not moved since the PHP0.0360 per kWh reduction in August 2022.

The power distributor is still implementing one distribution-related refund for residential customers amounting to PHP0.8656 per kWh which continues to temper their monthly bills. The final refund is set to be completed by May 2023, impact of which will be felt in June.

Despite lower rates for April and its relentless efforts to lower electricity rates, Meralco continued to advise its customers to practice energy efficiency and embrace it as a way of life.

At the end of the day, it is by being energy efficient that we are able to save money, and most importantly, help address the impact of climate change.

Meralco customers can also take advantage of the Appliance Calculator in the Meralco mobile application to know how much electricity their gadgets and appliances consume. This way, power consumption can be managed better.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Joe Zaldarriaga

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.