MM power demand recovers, rates fall

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    The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said peak demand in its franchise area is recovering, hitting 7,051 megawatts (MW) in June.

    But this is still below pre-pandemic level.

    “Our peak demand in March was at 7,584 MW, in April it was 5,453 MW and in May, at 6,428 MW. Last month, we already hit 7,051 MW, the highest so far since ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) was implemented but it is still lower compared to the 8,000 MW levels before March,” said Lawrence Fernandez, Meralco vice president and head of utility economics.

    Fernandez said in an online briefing the entire Luzon grid registered peak demand of 11,103 MW in March, 8,377 MW in April, 9,639 MW in May and 10,642 MW in June.

    Meanwhile, Meralco said July power rates will slightly go down by P0.0286 per kilowatt hour (kWh) due to lower generation charge as the company claimed force majeure on its power supply agreements (PSAs).

    The fourth consecutive downward rate adjustment will be equivalent to a decrease of around P6 in the bill of a residential customer consuming 200 kWh monthly. It brings overall power rates to P8.6966 per kWh compared to last month’s P8.7252 per kWh.

    Meralco said from P4.3413 per kWh in June, the generation charge decreased by P0.0069 per kWh to P4.3344 per kWh this July.

    Meralco said force majeure claims this month totalled P265 million, equivalent to customer savings of P0.0877 per kWh in the generation charge. Without the claims, the total rate would have increased by P0.0717 per kWh from last month’s rate.

    “Our PSA contracts have fixed prices and under normal times, we must pay that price regardless of whatever the demand was. However, because of COVID-19, we invoked force majeure which allowed us to pay lower which also resulted in lower bills for customers,” Fernandez said.

    At present, savings generated from force majeure claims totalled P1.85 billion.

    Charges from the wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) decreased by P1.7803 per kWh due to the reduction in line rental cost related to Meralco’s supply contracts but cost of power from independent power producers (IPPs) increased by P0.4354 per kWh mainly due to lower average plant dispatch.

    Purchases from PSAs went up by P0.0455 per kWh as a result of lower force majeure claim this month compared with the previous month but the peso’s appreciation mitigated further increases in IPP and PSA charges.

    Transmission charge for residential customers registered a reduction of P0.0426 per kWh due to lower ancillary service charges which more than offset the P0.0209 per kWh net increase of taxes and other charges.

    Meralco’s interim distribution rates comprised of distribution, supply and metering charges, the only bill component paid to the company remained at P1.381 per kWh for 60 months.

    The company said total power requirements for the month were accounted to 15.9 percent from WESM while PSAs and IPPs had shares of 50.9 percent and 33.2 percent, respectively. — Jed Macapagal

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