Speaker thanks Meralco for power rate reduction

SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano has welcomed the reduction of electricity rates by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) this August, expressing gratitude to the company for heeding the call of the House of Representatives to find ways to cushion high electricity rates.

“Many of our kababayans — whether poor or middle class — currently have no means of livelihood due the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-19) pandemic. That’s why we’re grateful to Meralco for heeding the House’s call to do something more to help lessen the daily burden of our kababayans,” Cayetano said.

From P8.6966 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) due in July, the electricity bills of Meralco consumers will see a P0.2055 per kWh decrease in August. As a result, consumers can save from P41 to P103 depending on their kwh consumption.

Cayetano had earlier appealed to Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan and Senior Vice President Atty. William Pamintuan to look into the possibility of giving a 50 percent discount to “at least the sectors that need it most” or delaying the payment of electricity bills.

While acknowledging that the goal of all businesses is to thrive financially, Cayetano requested Meralco, which he said has “had its share of profitability” as it has been serving Greater Manila, to continue exploring options to ease its payment collection.

“I know you’re already doing things for that group, ‘yung (the) lifeline [discount], ‘no, but pakitingnan lang, Sir, kung meron pa tayong maaambag. I’m sure President Duterte will also very much appreciate it,” Cayetano said in his manifestation during one of the hearings conducted by the House committee on good government and public accountability.

“Lifeline discount” is a discount given by Meralco to low-income consumers using less than 100 kilowatt-hours a month.

From May to July, the panel conducted a series of hearings to investigate the sudden spike in Meralco electricity rates and bills despite the overcapacity of the electricity supply.

The committee sought to come up with a measure to lower electricity rates, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

Cayetano said the congressional inquiries helped bring the issues and complaints raised by ordinary consumers to the concerned institutions.

This prompted Meralco to shoulder the P47 convenience fee per transaction for digital payments and to allow four- to six-month instalment payments. Meralco also wrote customized letters to consumers explaining their May bills based on actual meter readings.

According to Meralco, the rate reduction in August was due to lower prices at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) that went down by P1.12 per kWh due to fewer power plant outages.

There was also a decrease in the cost of supply from independent power producers (IPPs).

Since January this year, Meralco has implemented a total of P1.37 per KwH worth of reduction in power rates.

However, there was a question on the increase in the company’s reading of its consumers’ supposed electricity consumption for May, which the company had based on estimated consumption for the past three months.

Cayetano said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has an important role to play in lowering electricity rates.

“Pag-aralan natin lagi ang mga polisiya ng gobyerno. Siguraduhin nating maitama ‘yung mga mali, ‘yung panig sa Pilipino,” he said.

“That is the spirit of bayanihan.  We are all in this together, so I appeal to all sectors to also do whatever they can to alleviate the effects of this pandemic to all of us,” he added.