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SC asked to stop Meralco rate hike

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) was asked yesterday to stop an order of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) allowing an additional P0.04 per kilowatt-hour increase in the bills of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) customers this month.

In a 32-page petition, lawyer Remigio Michael Ancheta asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the implementation of the ERC order last October that granted the application of National Transmission Corp. (TransCo) to pay for the cost of renewable energy (RE) used under the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme.

The petitioner alleged that the FIT scheme is unconstitutional as it allowed for the advance collection of payment to FIT-eligible RE developers through the creation of the FIT-All Fund, which is not provided for in the law.

Ancheta said the ERC committed grave abuse of discretion when it issued the FIT rules and guidelines.

He said the new scheme compels consumers to pay for electricity in advance, considering that the plants covered by the FIT program have yet to operate or to be constructed.

Ancheta also argued that the implementation of the FIT-All Fund was illegal as it deprives consumers of their property without due process of law.

Using the 2015 forecast national sales of 68,016,055,191 kilowatt hours submitted in the application of Transco to ERC, Ancheta said the FIT-All Fund will translate to P230.12 million per month or P2.7 billion for this year.

“Unless this honorable court strikes down this unreasonable and oppressive attempt to collect from the public an amount that they can otherwise use for basic necessities, the consumers will be required to bear the burden by the start of the year 2015,” he said.

Ancheta said the FIT scheme allows Transco to perform its duties as a fund administrator and pay the RE developers their FIT rate, allowing continued production of RE electricity.

The FIT-All Fund is a uniform charge akin to the charge imposed on all on-grid electricity consumers who are supplied with electricity through the distribution or transmission network. It is said to be essential to the implementation of the FIT system under Section 7 of Republic Act 9513 (Renewable Energy Act of 2008), which covers electricity produced from wind, solar, ocean, run-of-river hydropower and biomass.

The new scheme also mandated Meralco to adopt the necessary modification in their billing and collection systems to enforce the FIT-All as a separate line item in the billings of consumers and remit the same in accordance with FIT-All guidelines.

Ancheta said a Meralco customer consuming 200 kilowatt-hours a month should expect an additional charge of P8.12 under the FIT system.

 

Lower bill

Meanwhile, Meralco said consumers could expect a reduction in their electricity bills this month due to lower fuel cost and lower incident of plant outages.

“There is a possibility of lower generation cost based on our initial analysis and primarily this may be due to lower effective price of fuel and lower incidence of plant outages,” said Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga. – With Rhodina Villaneuva, Iris Gonzales

ALL FUND

ANCHETA

ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION

FEED-IN TARIFF

FIT

IRIS GONZALES

JOE ZALDARRIAGA

MANILA ELECTRIC CO

MERALCO

NATIONAL TRANSMISSION CORP

REMIGIO MICHAEL ANCHETA

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