(The Philippine Star) | Updated March 9, 2017 - 12:00am
Summer 2017 has officially started, and with Metro Manila temperature averaging 32-35 degrees Celsius (91.4 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit), using cooling appliances at home is luxury no more – it has become a necessity. I learned from a previous forum that these cooling devices such as air conditioners and refrigerators are among the biggest electricity consumption drivers. But who can blame us for using these cooling fixtures that provide a much-needed respite in the scorching heat?
Electric bills being a major concern of housewives and working women like us, we cringed at the forewarning weeks ago of increased electric bills this summer because of the Malampaya shutdown for maintenance repair. (Malampaya’s gas field, located in offshore Palawan, provides about 40 percent of Luzon’s energy needs.) Higher electric bills are therefore inevitable.
What a relief that it was announced the other day that instead of a one-time payment to cover the increase in power bills caused by the Malampaya shutdown, Meralco’s petition to charge it in three-month installments has been approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). This means that Meralco customers have a more manageable March, April and May billing, which is significant considering that this comes at the peak of summer months when demand for electricity is high and costs are expected to rise.
Another good news for us consumers is that the increase also turns out to be lower than originally forecasted in December, when the Malampaya shutdown was made public and we were forewarned to be cautious in our use of electricity. Instead of a P0.92/ kwh increase one time, the final figure has been brought down to P0.22/kwh for the three months based on the announcement.
Challenging as the circumstances have been, the power industry partners’ strong collaboration is quite evident and is a big factor that led to this well-managed situation. The Department of Energy ramped up its information campaign way back in December, and gave consumers ample time to prepare and manage consumption. DOE was also on top of the whole power situation for the whole period that Malampaya facility was on shutdown, and under their watch, the power generation companies seem to have behaved and no lack of supply was reported.
Genuine customer concern was also evident when Meralco filed for a petition for the 3-month installment scheme instead of a big one-time scheme. I am told that the company knows us customers well and what will work for us, and among the most vital is cost management. The ERC was also quick to act on Meralco’s petition, which goes to show that consumers are also its primary concern, especially in crucial times.
I find this proof that when collaboration and concern for the welfare of the general public is made priority, everyone gets to reap benefits. And in this case, everyone gets cool and comfy, summer-ready thanks in part to Meralco and government action.