Inquirer.net : Bongbong Marcos asked: Check electricity costs as you vowed to cut rice prices

By Beatrice Pinlac | Inquirer.net

MANILA, Philippines — A consumer group has renewed its call for the government to explore ways to cut power rates in the country – this time, asking the incoming Marcos administration to examine closely electricity costs.

“Look also into the prices of electricity in the country as much as [you] promised to look into reducing the prices of rice,” the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) president RJ Javellana said in a statement on Thursday, apparently addressed to President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

According to Javellana, inflated electricity cost is among the reasons why foreign investors remain disinclined to do business in the Philippines.

The group’s plea comes after it registered its disapproval of a possible power rate hike that will be imposed on clients of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)’s Local Retail Electricity Supplier (RES) – MPower.

Currently, business consumers who are part of the Retail Electricity Supply Agreement (RESA) with the RES enjoy a monthly supply charge of P3.50 per kilowatt-hour even if the consumer exceeded their consumption beyond the contract capacity.

However, due to the “unprecedented increase” in the global cost of fuel products, MPower’s fixed rate could inch up from P3.50 to P4.00 per kilowatt-hour. The group said from January to April this year, there is already an additional adjustment of P2.80 per kilowatt-hour.

Small business consumers are the ones that will be affected by the power rate increase, according to the group.

While the company has the right to modify its rate to adapt to these external factors, Javellana noted that MPower “did not provide measures to reduce the prices of electricity when fuel prices are low.”

He also underscored the adverse economic effects of the rate increase on its pandemic-burdened clients, and added that it will also “trickle down to wage earners who are now threatened by layoffs, should the cost for running businesses increase.”

The UFCC likewise called on Congress to look into the agreement made with these local retail electricity suppliers

INQUIRER.net has reached out to MPower but has yet to receive a response from the company as of posting time.

Marcos Jr. has previously bared his plans to push for lower electricity rates by reintroducing nuclear energy as a viable source of power.

But many scientists, engineers, and advocates have opposed the possible revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, calling the proposal an inefficient response to the power crisis.