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Meralco power bills soar to highest level

Electricity bills in December will surge by P500 or more in areas served by Manila Electric Co., after the power generation charge escalated due to the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas platform and the outage of several power plants.

Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said the generation charge, the biggest component of the power bill, likely climbed by P2 to P2.50 per kilowatt-hour in December, after power plants shifted to more expensive fuel while the natural gas field was being repaired.

Zaldarriaga said the amount was only an “estimate” of the possible impact of the Malampaya gas platform maintenance shutdown from Nov. 11 to Dec. 10 this year.

He described the increase in generation charge, at the range of P2 to P2.50 per kWh, as a “historical high.” This means the generation cost would likely reach P8 per kWh this month, up from P5.66 per kWh in November.

This means a consumer with a monthly average consumption of 200 kWh would pay an additional P500 next month, based on the P2 to P2.50-per-kWh increase.

Meralco head of utility economics Lawrence Fernandez also said customers should “expect significant gen charge increase this December.”

“Based on previous experiences, the gen charge spikes up whenever the Malampaya pipeline goes on extended shutdown. This year, the effect of the pipeline shutdown was compounded by the outage of several large power plants,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez, however, said the actual figures would be known on Dec. 9, when the Meralco bills would be released to the consumers.

The Malampaya gas project in northwest Palawan provides natural gas to the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan combined cycle natural gas plant owned by Kepco Philippines Corp. and the 1,000-MW Sta. Rita and 500-MW San Lorenzo natural gas facilities of First Gen Corp. These power plants shifted to liquid condensate and diesel to provide sufficient energy supply during the course of Malampaya maintenance.

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