MANILA, Philippines – The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) advised customers to expect higher electricity bills for April and May due to the 30-day Malampaya deepwater gas-to-power facility shutdown, along with higher demand.
The Malampaya facility will not run from March 15 to April 14. The power plants relying on the facility will need to shift to more expensive liquid fuel during the shutdown.
As a result of the use of liquid fuel, rates are expected to increase in the billing months affected by the shutdown. Another contributing factor would be higher energy demand during the summer months of April and May, Meralco said Monday, March 9.
At present, the Malampaya gas field fuels 3 power plants: Sta Rita, San Lorenzo, and Ilijan, with a total capacity of 2,700MW. It also fuels around 40% to 50% of Luzon’s power requirements.
The 3 plants are currently running at baseload or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except during forced outages and maintenance shutdown.
Lower rates for March
There will, however, be a respite for consumers before the spike. Meralco said that power rates went down by P0.085 ($0.0019) per kilowatt hour (kWh) from February power rates due to lower generation and transmission charges.
The decrease translates to roughly P19 ($0.43) for a typical household consuming 200 kWh, Meralco said.
Generation charge, the most expensive component of the bill, decreased by P0.029 ($0.0007) per kWh from P5.238 ($0.118) to P5.209 ($0.118). This was due to the 30-centavo ($0.0068) reduction in the average rate of Meralco’s Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) for the February supply month.
The reduction, however, was dampened by an increase of P1.14 ($0.0258) per kWh in the average price of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and P0.18 ($0.0041) per kWh in the case of Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The balance of Meralco’s power requirements was accounted for by the Interim Power Supply Agreements (IPSAs).
Transmission charge, meanwhile, went down by P0.045 ($0.0010) per kWh due to lower ancillary charges. Other charges, which include system loss charge and subsidies, registered a decrease of P0.010 ($0.00023) per kWh. These reductions resulted in corresponding decreases in taxes (value added tax and local franchise tax) of P0.011 ($0.00025) per kWh.
Meralco’s distribution charge, however, remained unchanged and had been at the same level since July 2014.
Meralco reiterated that payment for the generation charge goes to the power suppliers, such as the plants selling to the utility firm through the WESM and under the PSAs, IPPs, and IPSAs.
Payment for the transmission charge goes to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). Of the total bill, only the distribution, supply, and metering charges accrue to Meralco.
Be energy efficient
Given the power rates spike plus the anticipated power shortage due to the Malampaya maintenance shutdown, Meralco reminded the public to observe energy efficiency tips::
- Set the air conditioner’s thermostat from high cool (18°C) to mid-cool (25°C). By doing so, customers may save up to P280 ($6.33) per month.
- Regularly clean electric fans to prevent it from accumulating dust. Doing so would save around 3% in electricity costs. Likewise, adjusting fan settings to low speed can save 12% to 23%.
- Iron large batch of clothing at one time can also save on energy costs. Thus, schedule ironing on morning of weekends when the demand for electricity is low. Switch the iron off in the last few minutes of ironing. The remaining heat will be enough to press lighter materials.
As of March 9, power supply in Luzon remained normal.
“Our power reserves remained sufficient despite forced and planned outages of power plants in Luzon,” said Energy Undersecretary Zenaida Monsanda.
The reserves stood at more than 1,500MW.
Monsada said the Luzon grid can fill up the demand and is hopeful that can be sustained in the coming weeks when the Malampaya facility goes offline.
“Some of the power plants that are on planned maintenance schedule will run before or during the Malampaya shutdown. This could help provided that no big power plants tripped or encounter technical problems,” Monsada said. – Rappler.com
US$1 = P44.21