By Lenie Lectura, April 9 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

CONSUMERS will pay for higher fuel prices this week and higher electricity rates this month.

Oil firms announced on Monday they will increase the price of gasoline by P0.25 per liter, diesel by P0.20 per liter and kerosene by P0.10 per liter. The price adjustment takes effect 6 a.m. of Tuesday, April 9.

The oil-price hike was announced by Petro Gazz, Eastern Petroleum Corp., Seaoil Philippines, Total Philippines, PTT Philippines, Unioil Philippines. Other oil firms will follow suit.

Meanwhile, electricity rates inched up to P10.5594 per kilowatt hour (kWh) this month from last month’s P10.4961 per kWh. The upward adjustment of P0.0633 per kWh will mean a slight increase of around P13 in the total bill of a typical household consuming 200 kWh.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) attributed the increase to higher spot-market prices and the peso depreciation. Both pushed up generation rates to P5.6322 per kWh this month,  from P5.5973 per kWh last month.

“The generation charge increase is primarily due to higher charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market [WESM] and the weakening of the Peso against US Dollar,” the utility firm said.

The P1.2815 per kWh increase in WESM charges this April was brought about by tighter supply conditions in the Luzon grid. NGCP placed the grid under Yellow Alert on March 5, 7 and 8, 2019, due to insufficient operating reserves brought about by limited capability of several power plants because of outages and deration. The share of WESM to Meralco’s total requirement this month went down to 10.4 percent.

Cost of power from the Independent Power Producers (IPP) also increased by P0.0881 per kWh due to the weakening of the peso against the US dollar. About 95 percent of IPP charges are dollar-denominated. Meanwhile, charges from the Power Supply Agreements (PSA) went down by P0.2796 per kWh. IPPs and PSAs provided 41.4 percent and 48.2 percent of Meralco’s supply needs, respectively.

As approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the Feed-In Tariff Allowance (FiT-All) was decreased by P0.0337 per kWh, while Universal Charge-Stranded Debts was adjusted by P0.0163 per kWh, resulting in a net reduction of P0.0174 per kWh.

Meanwhile, transmission charge, taxes, and other charges to residential customers increased by P0.0458 per kWh.

Meralco’s distribution, supply, and metering charges have remained unchanged for 45 months, after these registered reductions in July 2015. 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 NGCP. Taxes and other public policy charges like the FiT-All rate are remitted to the government.

Sixth yellow alert

Meanwhile, the Luzon grid was again placed on yellow alert on Monday afternoon, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. This is the sixth this month and ninth for the year.

The alert notice was issued due to insufficient operating reserves brought about by high system demand and forced outage of SLPGC 2 (150MW) and Pagbilao 3 (420MW). Other generators that are still on unplanned outage are: SLTEC 1 (121MW) and Malaya 2 (350MW). The derated plants that contributed to the thin reserves are Calaca 2 at 200MW from 300MW and Malaya 1 at 150MW from 300MW.

As summer arrives, Meralco once again encourages its customers to continue practicing energy efficiency initiatives to help manage their electricity consumption.