THERE was good news for the millions of customers of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) this July. It announced that its customers would be paying P1.06 per kilowatt hour less for the first six months of 2020 than what they used to pay for the first six months of the previous year 2019.
From last year’s P9.25 per kilowatt hour, the rate was brought down to P8.19, as a result of a number of moves taken in an effort to lower costs for its customers in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic that has made life so difficult for all.
Like all other businesses and industries, Meralco had suffered from the pandemic and the restrictions of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) that began on March 16, followed by the Modified ECQ and then the General ECQ that continues in Metro Manila to this day.
Its net income for the first six months of the year plunged from P12 billion in 2019 to P6.8 billion in 2020, due to lower cash inflows, delayed capital expenditures, and limitations resulting from the pandemic and lockdown.
It improved its systems loss performance so it is now 1.34 percent points lower than the government cap of 7.25 percent. It implemented new power supply agreements, lower Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) prices, and invoked force majeure claims during the lockdown.
Transmission charges were lowered because of lower power delivery charges, coupled with lower average billing demands. It achieved a 21 percent decrease in system loss charges.
Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said it will continue to find ways to provide reliable and affordable electricity for household and commercial consumers, especially during this time of the pandemic. Meralco is moving with caution, he said, but it is positive that a recovery is in the offing. And it will be improving its services, including lowering system loss.
Meralco’s announcement will be welcomed by its millions of customers, especially in Metro Manila. It is also one more positive note in this time of so much negativity and fear arising from the pandemic and its impact on government, industries, and the lives of ordinary people.