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Saturday, February 24, 2024

P1.20 hike in gas pump price seen; Meralco rates up

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Pump prices may go up on Tuesday by up to P1.20 per liter for gasoline and P0.35 per liter for diesel based on the first four days of global oil trading data.

The estimate by one industry source dovetailed with a statement from the director of the Oil Industry Management Bureau of the Department of Energy, Rodela Romero, who said they expect an increase in the prices of gasoline and diesel and a minimal rollback or no adjustment for kerosene.

Meanwhile, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said its customers would experience higher rates this month by P0.5453 per kWh, bringing the overall rate for a typical household to P11.4348 per kWh from P10.8895 per kWh in February.

Meralco said for residential customers consuming 200 kWh, the adjustment is equivalent to an increase of around P109 in their total electricity bill.

The increase is lower than previously forecast by Meralco of P0.62 perkWh but it would have been higher had the company decided not to defer the collection of a portion of the generation charge amounting to P0.40 per kWh for a total cost of P1.1 billion.

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“At the end of the day, we have to help our consumers manage the cost, so we really had to find a way to make it easy for them somehow to make the overall cost of electricity less painful for them,” Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said.

Meralco’s generation charge went up by P0.4636 to P7.3790 from P6.9154 per kWh the previous month due to higher supply costs, higher spot prices, and the impact of the San Miguel Corp. replacement contract.

“This month’s generation charge increase would have been significantly higher, but we took the initiative to cushion the impact in the bills of our customers by coordinating with some of our suppliers to defer collection of portions of their generation costs,” the head of Meralco’s regulatory management office, Jose Ronald Valles, said.

Valles said the deferred costs reduced this month’s generation rates by P0.40 per kWh and will be billed on a staggered basis over the next two months or in April and May billing months, as coordinated with the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Meralco head of utility economics Lawrence Fernandez said the deferred charges will be collected in the next two months without interest.

Fernandez said Meralco cannot say whether power rates will go up next month amid the deferred charges as there are other factors to consider.

“We cannot say if there would be an increase even with the P0.20 amortization,” he said.

Fernandez said another distribution refund will be completed by May, which is equivalent to about P0.87 for residential customers.

Meanwhile, Meralco charges from its independent power producers increased by P0.5784 per kWh, net of deferred generation costs as the natural gas plants used more expensive fuel.

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