Lawmakers want inquiry on electricity rate hike

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Friday, December 6, 2013

MANILA -- The House of Representatives should investigate Manila Electric Company's (Meralco) proposed "humongous" generation cost increase of P2 to P3 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) this month, two party-list lawmakers said Friday.

Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate filed House Resolution 588 directing the House committee on energy to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the planned power increase amid the devastation brought by typhoon Yolanda.

The lawmakers said Meralco is adding to the nation's woes as the adjustment comes in the midst of an "economic meltdown" as an effect of the powerful typhoon that hit most areas of Visayas.

"An investigation is definitely in order, considering that we have had enough calamities for the year. Meralco should not be callous by adding more to our woes," Zarate said.

Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga earlier said that the increase in generation charge is due to the scheduled shutdown of the Malampaya power plant from November 11 to December 10.

The party-list lawmakers also scored the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for failing to outline a plan despite the definite maintenance schedule of the Malampaya natural gas plant.

"Since the maintenance of the Malampaya power facility was scheduled months ago, it is gravely suspicious why the DOE did not find alternative sources to compensate for it. Repairs and maintenance of power plants are scheduled events," Zarate said.

"There is no reason bakit kailangang magtaas ng singil sa kuryente sa tuwing gagawin ito. The effect of this is to constrict supply and therefore jack up prices in the spot market," he added. (Sunnex)

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