Press Release
January 13, 2017

Nancy appeals to ERC to exhaust all means to temper price shocks
...suggests staggered payment scheme on rate hike caused by Malampaya shutdown

Senator Nancy Binay today called on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to employ all necessary measures to cushion the possible rate impact of the 20-day maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility.

Sen. Binay, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, issued this statement following the various procedures and programs initiated by the Department of Energy (DOE) and other power stakeholders affected by the shutdown, tempering the projected P1.20 to P1.50 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) power rate increase in power consumers' bills.

"I commend the initiative and foresight of all stakeholders in the power industry and their willingness to protect the interest of the ordinary Filipino consumer. But more than this, I suggest that we also have customers pay their power bills in tranches to lessen their household expenditures," Binay said.

The Malampaya gas field maintenance shutdown is scheduled on January 28 to February 16, 2017. The possible rate increase is expected to reflect in consumers' bills in March 2017.

"These procedures have been done before but now, we have to be more proactive to mitigate the power rate increase as soon as we can," the lady senator added.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has reportedly filed for a staggered payment application to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Sen. Binay appealed to the ERC to also review all active and current power supply agreements (PSAs) and ensure that no additional costs will be billed to consumers during collection of the increased generation costs during the maintenance period.

"The ERC should also look for customer rebates that can be applied during the period of the rate increase to offset or, at least, minimize what consumers will spend for their electricity bills," Sen. Binay said.

"Lastly, in the event that the staggered payment application will be allowed, I hope that it will spread out over a longer period of time so consumers will pay lower increments per month," Binay added.

For its part, the ERC and the DOE are reportedly studying the possibility of lowering the secondary price cap in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) to avert excessive increases that might be brought about by the high demand during the maintenance period.

To date, among these contingency measures initiated by the DOE include:

- Supplementing the supply deficiency by ensuring availability of alternative fuel requirements of affected natural-gas power plants that will continue to generate electricity during maintenance period

- Running of back-up plants such as the 470-MW Malaya Thermal Power Plant

- Preparing the availability of Interruptible Load Program (ILP) participants to augment supply when demand increases

- Monitoring and maximizing the operation of all renewable energy facilities during the Malampaya maintenance period.

"Given that all these measures are in preparation for the Malampaya shutdown, I pray that its actual impact will be mitigated and that our consumers will be given relief from added expenses," Sen. Binay said.

"Ang mga hakbang na ito ay patunay na nagtratrabaho ang ating gobyerno upang protektahan ang mga kababayan natin sa dagdag na bayarin sa kuryente. Nawa'y mapatupad natin ng maayos ang mga planong ito," Binay said.

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