A newly formed-multisectoral alliance of electricity consumers called EmPOWER Consumers has demanded an explanation for the sharp increase in electricity rates this month from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and other concerned power industry players.

On Tuesday, Meralco announced that the rise in electricity charges this month is due to per kiloWatthour (kWh) increase of 51.88 centavos in generation, 30 centavos in distribution, 7.59 centavos in transmission, and 7.70 centavos in system loss charge. About seventy percent of the increase comes from the increase in generation rates which Meralco claims to be due to price of electricity traded at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) also shot up from P5.94 in February to P10.68 per kiloWatthour in March.

EmPOWER Consumers expressed disappointment over this development.

Milo Tanchuling, Secretary General of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and one of the convenors of EmPOWER Consumers, stated in a letter by the consumer alliance to the Energy Regulatory Commission dated 23 April 2004 that the recent news on increase in electricity charges in Meralco franchise areas is contrary to the pronouncement of the ERC early this month that there will be no power rates increase in the next two months.

The consumer alliance added that it also shows Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s statement at the Philippine Energy Summit early this year that her administration will find ways to reduce electricity rates in the country was nothing but a lip service.

“In this time of food/rice crisis, when the value of people’s money continues to diminish, a P150-monthly increase in electricity bill further aggravates the miserable state of the Filipinos especially the poor. The government is accountable to the people, thus it owes us consumers an explanation for the increase in electricity charges,” Tanchuling said.

Together with FDC, the National Association of Electricity Consumers (NASECORE) represented by its president Pete Ilagan, also a member of EmPOWER Consumers, had urged the ERC to immediately convene a meeting to explain the recent increase to the electricity consumers. The groups also asked ERC to invite in that meeting the concerned power industry players such as Meralco, National Power Corporation, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, Transco, and the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation. -30-

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