Probe into power rate hike sought-A A +A
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday filed Senate Resolution 411 seeking an investigation into power rate hike by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).
Trillanes said that there are reports of alleged collusion among power plants, which results in the unusual number of power outages during the shutdown the Malampaya natural gas field, putting into question the validity of the proposed electricity rate increase.
"Republic Act No. 9136 or the Epira (Electric Power Industry Reform Act) was enacted in 2001 to implement reforms in the energy sector, including assurance of the quality, reliability, security and affordability of the supply of electric power in the country. However, the proposed increase in the generation cost of Meralco runs counter to this purpose of the aforesaid law," Trillanes said.
On Monday, the Energy Regulatory Commission approved the implementation of the said hike amounting to more than P4 per kilowatt hour (kwh), the highest in the country's history, which will be distributed in three tranches. The first and biggest tranche is an increase in the amount of P2.41 per kwh expected to reflect in the December billing; while the second is P1.21 per kwh to reflect in February, while the third is P0.53 per kwh to reflect in March.
In addition to this, other components are also expected to increase such as value added tax, local franchise tax, and transmission charge.
The price hike is due to the increase in generation charges triggered by the scheduled maintenance shutdown of Malampaya natural gas platform, where Meralco sources bulk of its power requirements. This was compounded by the outage of other plants where Malampaya sources its power from.
"It is incumbent upon the Senate, through the Senate Committee on Energy and other appropriate Senate committees, to protect public interest and safeguard the rights of consumers from alleged unjust financial burden and abuse of the law, especially at a time when the country is still reeling from a string of natural and man-made catastrophes," Trillanes said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)