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Power hike result of WESM manipulation - group

MANILA, Philippines - Consumer group People Opposed to unWarranted Electricity Rates (POWER) on Monday decried Meralco's planned rate hike this month, saying it may have been a result of manipulation in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).
"Meralco says this month's rate hike is due to tight supply last month. But more than 92 percent of Meralco's supply is already covered by long term contracts with fixed prices. We interpret this to mean that it was WESM again that dictated the higher prices, making it highly suspect," said POWER convener and former Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño.
WESM players have been accused of collusion for last year's ballooning cost of power. 
The Department of Energy,  Department of Justice and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) have yet to come up with their official findings in the matter.
"Without the official findings on WESM manipulation and the SC's (Supreme Court) final decision on Meralco's bloated rate hikes last year, the ERC should be extra careful and ensure that all rate hike petitions go through a transparent process of public hearings," Casiño said.
POWER said that consumers are again being left out of the rate-setting process that affects their daily lives and incomes.
"The pronouncement made by Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldariaga that they will most likely raise prices this month is a mere formality with consumers having no say at all in how the rates are being recomputed. We plan to question this practice of automatic rate adjustments in the Energy Regulatory Commission," Casiño said.
Right after Meralco's huge rate hike in November and December 2013 which the SC stopped, Meralco and the ERC agreed to hold public hearings on succeeding rate hikes. 
Starting February 2014, however, automatic rate adjustments were again imposed without going through public hearings.
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