MALACAÑANG assured customers of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) that power rates may go down again as early as September – but not before defending Meralco’s power rate increase this month.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the rate hike this month was needed because some power plants where Meralco sources its power are undergoing rehabilitation.

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“Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras explained power rates may go up this month because the San Jose plant is being rehabilitated and the power coming from alternate sources will be more expensive. But Almendras is hoping by September, power rates will go down again once the San Jose plant is rehabilitated,” he said over radio interview Saturday.

He defended Meralco’s power rate hike, saying power rates could have gone even higher in the long run if the San Jose plant were not rehabilitated soonest.

Meanwhile, Lacierda said Almendras wants to review and improve the present laws, including the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

While he did not elaborate, he said Almendras wants the Epira to be “more responsive” to the needs of the present situation.

“He (Almendras) was telling me he’d like to review the law to make it more responsive to the needs of current situation. All these are under discussion,” he said.

On Friday, Meralco advised its Metro Manila customers to expect their August electric bills to go up.

Meralco said they experienced higher generation rate of P0.44 per kilowatt hour (kWh) hour in July. The generation rate increase in July will be reflected on consumers’ August bills.

It added that the effect of this increase in generation rate is as follows: customers with a monthly consumption of 200 kWh will experience an increase of P88 in their August bill.

Lifeline residential customers, or those consuming 100 kWh or less, will have lesser increase at an average of P0.22 per kWh.

Meralco said July’s generation rate is the second highest for the year. The highest generation charge recorded reached P6.77 per kWh in April.

Of the P3.08 per kWh increase, about P1.46 per kWh was due to higher market clearing prices, P0.85 per kwh was due to increase in line rental cost, and the remaining P0.77 per kwh was due to various adjustments pertaining to June 2010’s WESM supply. (JMR/Sunnex)