By: Ronnel W. Domingo
Customers of the Manila Electric Co. will see an increase of 66 centavos per kiloWatt-hour in their monthly bill for March, partly due to the pass-on cost of the recently completed maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility.
According to the Department of Energy, the shutdown took place as scheduled from Jan. 28 to Feb. 16.
When natural gas production is stopped, power plants that use this lower-cost resource have to run on more expensive liquid fuel such as diesel and natural gas condensate.
The added cost is what is passed on to consumers.
Meralco filed last January an application for regulators to allow the distributor to pass on an estimated P2.42 billion in incremental liquid fuel cost to its customers.
However, based on actual suppliers’ billings provided to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) last March 3, the cost was pegged at P1.75 billion, which translates to 66 centavos per kWh.
Meralco officials said on Thursday the added cost would be reflected on customers bills in three tranches of 22 centavos each in March, April and May.
Lawrence Fernandez, head of Meralco’s utility economics unit, said in a briefing that for March alone, the ERC gave the company a provisional authority to increase its rates by 66 centavos per kWh for a typical residential customer, including the first tranche of the added fuel cost due to the Malampaya maintenance.
He said in a briefing that for a household that uses 200 kWh, the increase would mean an additional P132 in their bill.