By Abigail L. Ho
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:21:00 04/25/2008
MANILA, Philippines-EmPOWER Consumers, a recently formed electricity
consumers group, is calling on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC)
to compel all power industry stakeholders to explain why electricity
prices suddenly spiked this month.
In a letter to the ERC, the group, together with the group Freedom
from Debt Coalition and the National Association of Electricity
Consumers, said the regulatory body should convene a meeting of major
industry players, such as power retailer Manila Electric Co.
(Meralco), government-owned producer National Power Corp., state-owned
National Transmission Corp., power bourse operator Philippine
Electricity Market Corp. and the privatization agency Power Sector
Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.
EmPOWER Consumers convener Milo Tanchuling said the sudden rise in
Meralco rates was contrary to the ERC’s assurance that rates would
Meralco customers this month will see their April bills go up by
P0.6717 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Factoring in all rate adjustments for
April, Meralco residential customers consuming 200 kWh a month will
see their bills increase by 8.95 percent or by P149.
According to data from Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC),
which operates the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM), the
average market price at the electricity bourse for the period from
Feb. 26 to March 25 was only P6.72 per kWh-lower than the price at
which Meralco bought electricity from WESM.
Meralco’s spot purchases of electricity averaged P8.94 per kWh, PEMC
data showed, as the utility bought most of its Wesm-sourced power
during peak hours, when prices were high.
“It’s really [Meralco’s] call on when to buy and at what price,” PEMC
president Lasse Holopainen said. “We’re just the market. We don’t
dictate how [WESM participants] make their … decisions.” With
editing by INQUIRER.net