Meralco, profit-hungry!

This article is available in Pilipino

Members of Bayan Muna protested in front of a Meralco office in Kamuning, Quezon City on February 11 to condemn the latest ₱0.5738 per kilowatt hour (kwh) rate increase for February. This is the second increase this year. In January, the company also raised its rates by ₱0.0846/kwh. Thus, its consumers pay ₱11.9168/kWh, which means an additional ₱115 for a house that consumes a minimum of 200kwh per month.

“The increase in charges is an additional burden on consumers who are already suffering from the rising prices of basic necessities,” Bayan Muna said that day. It called the company’s increase in charges “unacceptable”.

“Electricity cost should be decreasing because the weather is still cold and the demand is low,” said to the group. “This move by Meralco shows the company’s greed for profit, where profits rank higher the people’s welfare.”

This is a result of the deregulation of the electricity industry, which has given unfettered power to private companies like Meralco to arbitrarily pass on their production costs to consumers.

In fact, Meralco’s rate hike is arbitrary and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is stopping it. Yesterday, February 14, the ERC ordered Meralco to refund up to half of its February surcharge because it does not have “clearance” to increase rates.

“Pending the agency’s clearance, such additional costs passed (by the company) is premature,” according to the ERC. The company will first have to submit documents to prove the basis of the surcharge.

Meralco attributed the surcharge to the increase in the cost of power generation allegedly caused by the high price of imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) used by these plants. However, Meralco itself admitted that it does not yet have actual data on how much additional production costs will be because it will only start using imported LNG from the US this February.

Meralco raised its generation cost to ₱7.1020/kWh this February from ₱6.6468/kwh in January. This follows the company entering into an “agreement” with First Gen for energy supply using imported LNG. First Gen is owned by the Lopez family, which owns more than half of Meralco’s stock. Currently, Meralco is operated by Metro Pacific Investment Corporation and its chief Manuel Pangilinan.

Meralco monthly bill, February 2024
Consumption Surcharge Total charge
200kwh ₱115 ₱2,383.36
300kwh ₱172 ₱3,575.04
400kwh ₱229 ₱4,766.72
500kwh ₱287 ₱5,958.4
AB: Meralco, profit-hungry!