CONSUMER GROUP URGES THE ENERGY DEPARTMENT AND ERC TO BE READY FOR SCHEDULED AND UNSCHEDULED SHUTDOWNS THIS SUMMER.

2019-02-13 23:34:45

Amidst the power rate hike announced by Meralco last week , the  consumer group , Laban Konsyumer Inc. suggested that “more capacity or supply should bring down power rates for consumers. If we do not address  this problem now, distribution utilities will be forced to buy higher priced alternative fuel for power. If there is more supply, there is less pressure for rates to go higher, especially during the summer months.”

Dimagiba said “It would be best if the government could provide consumers a list of all the plants and an inventory of when these power plants scheduled shutdown .  There should be contingeny plans in place for unscheduled outages due to technical problems and /or force majeure . We observed  that there is where the problem occurs, when there is a sudden shutdown and the prices in the spot market go up. Power plants supply  alternative fuels and oftentimes more expensive than the contracted amount . 

Dimagiba wrote the ERC on January 27, 2019 and proposed that the Commission conducts the real time review of rate adjustments and inform the consumers that the adjustments are in compliance of the rate adjustment mechanism guidelines. 

The greater transparency and sharing of information to the consumers by the Commission is very important. We observed that the Manila Electric Company or Merico conduct a monthly briefing on power rates , but we hardly hear the Commission,  the NGCP , the spot market operator and the generating plants inform consumers of their power rates.  We sincerely propose that the Commission introduce meaningful changes on ensuring the consumers right to accurate and timely information on matters relating to power rate.

Looking ahead,  Dimagiba  stated  that they are highly concerned about distribution utilities that may have to source additional power in time for the scheduled maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas facility in October this year. This will possibly lead to higher rates for power consumers. The maintenance affects the operations of Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo, Ilijan, Avion and San Miguel natural gas power plants in Batangas with a combined capacity of 3,200 megawatts and are as follows, T the 1,000-megawatt Santa Rita, the 500-MW San Lorenzo, the 1,200-MW Ilijan, the 97-MW Avion and the 414-MW San Gabriel. Power rates historically go up at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, the country’s trading floor of electricity, during the Malampaya shutdown because of the tightness in supply. 

 All stakeholders should meet to ensure there is adequate supply and to ensure minimal impact on consumers but this Malampaya shutdown is already alarming because it threatens to raise prices on consumers especially as between 50 percent and 60 percent of Meralco-DU (distribution utility) supply is from power plants using Malampaya gas.  Dimagiba added that last year Malampaya shutdown cost the consumers an additional 66 centavos per kWh collected by Meralco over a 3 month period.

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