Another burden for Metro Manila power consumers

December 20, 2018

SENATORIAL candidate Neri Colmenares warned power consumers in Metro Manila may have to pay an additional P1.80 per kilowatt-hour to Atimonan One Energy Inc. (Atimonan One) due to the supposed continued escalation in the cost of constructing the company’s 1,200-megawatt power plant.

The former Bayan Muna congressman aired the warning after the  Manila Electric Company admitted that the cost of constructing the Atimonan power facility in Quezon province went up by P15 billion due to interest expense on the power plant’s loans and increased cost of its imported equipment. Atimonan One is a subsidiary of Meralco.

“The continuing escalation in construction cost of the Atimonan One power plant will translate in one year to an estimated P1.80 per kwh increase in capacity cost, a major component embedded in computing Atimonan One’s power rate,” noted Colmenares, a staunch consumer advocate.

“The capital cost increase will add to the estimated P5.66 per kwh average power rate of Atimonan One, or a total of P7.46 per kwh. This is clearly exorbitant because other power generation companies like the San Miguel Corporation now offer electricity for as low as P2.95/kwh,” he pointed out.

“We don’t think Meralco will be charitable enough to absorb all these additional cost; it will pass on to its customers all these additional charges,” Colmenares warned. “Once Meralco collects all these additional charges, we probably will earn the dubious distinction of having the world’s most expensive power rates,”he noted.

Meralco contracted Atimonan One plant’s entire 1,200-megawatt capacity under a controversial PSA to its wholly owned subsidiary without public bidding. CSP rules require electricity distributors like Meralco to get offers from at least two power suppliers before awarding a PSA.

“Meralco’s admission should move the Energy Regulatory Commission [ERC] to already dismiss the Meralco-Atimonan One PSA application and order Meralco instead to bid this big power supply deal under ERC’s competitive selection process [CSP],” said Colmenares.