Meralco to lower electric bills this March—Zaldarriaga

MANILA — Good news to power consumers.

Starting next month electric bills are expected to go down as it will include the average refund rate of 0.1528 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to cover the reported “over-recoveries” as ordered by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

Meralco vice-president and corporate communications head Joe Zaldarriaga says, “based on initial projections, there is a strong likelihood that power rates for March 2021 will go down, as this will be the second consecutive month of decrease for the year.”

Zaldarriaga, however, clarifies that the distribution utility was still waiting for the final bills from its power suppliers. He  adds that next month’s power rate would include the average refund rate based on Meralco’s distribution rate “true-up” or actual weighted average tariff, which is derived by dividing its revenues by the total kilowatt-hour sales.

Concerning “over-recoveries,” the Meralco official explains that this happens when the actual weighted average rate breached the price cap based on the ERC-approved interim average rate.

Last week, the ERC announced that it had released the order for Meralco to refund 13.89 billion in “over-recoveries” based on the power firm’s actual weighted average tariff from July 2015 to November 2020.

The refund would take effect starting March. The total amount must be refunded within 24 months or until fully returned to power consumers, according to the commission.

“Meralco’s refund rate will be reflected as a separate line item in the bills of the customers during the refund period,” Zaldarriaga points out.

“The projected decrease in power rates would continue the downward trend in electricity costs, as overall rates have gone down by more than 1 per kWh since the start of 2020,” he said.

On 8 February, Meralco announced that typical households in Metro Manila should expect to see a 14 drop in power rates this month.

The decrease is attributed to lower generation charges. It said that the overall power rate in February stood at 8.6793 per kWh, which was 0.0704 per kWh lower than the rate in January.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, is partly owned by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). (JSM/JuanManila)

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