Power, fuel rates up

Published by rudy Date posted on April 6, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  Higher fuel prices and news of an impending rise in electricity rates greeted consumers yesterday, sparking fears of sharper increases in the costs of basic goods and services in the coming days.

Pilipinas Shell, Chevron Philippines and Phoenix Petroleum raised pump prices by 25 centavos per liter to reflect the increase in international oil prices, while the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) announced a hike of 20 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kwh) in power rates for this month’s billing.

Shell and Chevron raised their pump prices at 6 a.m. yesterday while Phoenix’s adjustment takes effect today.

Based on data from the Department of Energy (DOE), the total increase to date this year for gasoline has reached P6.35 per liter and for diesel, P8.10.

Last March 29, oil players raised gasoline prices by 70 centavos per liter; regular gasoline by 85 centavos; diesel, 40 centavos; and kerosene, 20 centavos.

At present, gasoline costs from P52.10 to P58.12 per liter while diesel is P44.95 to P47.50 per liter.

The DOE reiterated it was transparent in providing the public and transport groups with information on the movement of local pump prices.

The department said it has been meeting with transport groups every Monday to inform them of oil price trends based on the Mean of Platts Singapore, the pricing benchmark for imported oil in Asia including the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Meralco said it had to adjust its rates due to higher cost of power purchased in the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM). Meralco has four million customers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The power distribution firm last month sourced slightly more than half of its power requirements from independent power producers and 47 percent from the National Power Corp.

Meralco’s IPPs First Gas Power Corp. and Quezon Power Philippines Ltd. offered the lowest rates.

For the April billing, Meralco will charge its customers P5.0474 per kwh in generation fee from an average of P4.8461 last March.

With the increase, customers with a monthly average consumption of 200 kwh will have to pay P40 more for the month of April.

But Meralco stressed that on a year-over-year comparison, generation charge this month is still lower. Generation charge in April last year stood at P6.7699 per kwh.

The WESM component in this month’s increase includes unbilled costs in May 2010.

“This effectively drove up the April bill of power consumers by 20 centavos per kwh,” Meralco said in a statement.

Meralco said that although it procured only 2.5 percent of its overall power requirements for March from WESM, the significant increase in the spot market’s charges has offset the P0.024 per kwh decrease in the rates of IPPs.

Cost of power from Napocor, meanwhile, went up by one centavo per kwh.

Generation charge is the biggest component in the electricity bill, comprising 60 percent of billing charges.

Meralco’s generation charge for March was lower at P4.8461 per kwh from P4.8623 in February due to lower WESM prices and lower transmission charges.

Meralco stressed it does not profit from generation charges because they go to power generators such as Napocor and the IPPs.

Meralco advised its customers to prepare for the coming summer months during which power prices are usually higher.

Appliances work doubly hard in warm weather conditions and more people stay home and use air conditioners or electric fans.

Meralco advised its customers to observe power saving measures, including unplugging unused appliances and ironing clothes in bulk, among others. –Donnabelle Gatdula (The Philippine Star)

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