DOE hopes for final SC decision on Meralco rate hike

Posted at 04/23/14 4:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Energy said it hopes the Supreme Court will make a final decision on whether Manila Electric Company (Meralco) can implement its hefty rate hike for its December billing.

"We respect the Supreme Court’s decision, yet we are hoping for the final decision on the matter," Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Meralco suffered a setback after the High Court extended indefinitely a freeze order on its rate hike petition. Meralco had sought to increase power rates by 75% or P4.15 per kilowatthour last December.

The SC had issued the first 60-day TRO on Meralco's rate hike last December 23, and extended it for another 60 days on February 23.

However, a group of lawmakers last week filed a petition to indefinitely defer the Meralco rate hike, citing the need to protect consumers.

The SC also ordered Meralco's power suppliers to temporarily suspend payment demands from the power distributor for electricity bought from the spot market last year.

Petilla said generation companies have assured the DOE that they will continue to produce electricity despite the TRO.

At the same time, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Amando Tetangco said the recent SC decision will not affect its inflation forecast for the year.

"Our latest baseline forecasts did not consider the power rate hike that is under the SC TRO. But we flag it is as an upside risk, given the uncertainty surrounding its resolution... Thus the forecasts are not affected but this will help lower upside risks--all things remaining the same," he said.

The BSP forecast inflation to average 4.2 percent this year.

Meanwhile, Petilla said the power supply for summer is now stable.

"We have enough supply and we are not foreseeing yellow alert given that there is no unplanned shutdown that will occur. The DOE, however, is readying mitigating measures in case of supply shortfall," he said. - With Reuters