The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said Wednesday that the Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco) pending Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) application will result in an increase in power rates.
Based on initial review, the commission said an average rate adjustment of P0.2309/kWh will be added to the customers’ electric bill if the smart meters will be shared by all Meralco customers, while an average rate adjustment of P0. 3972/kWh if charged only to Meralco bulk customers.
This is the reason why the commission has yet to act on Meralco’s application, saying it is currently evaluating the cost implications to minimize its impact to consumers.
“The Commission is conducting further study pertinent to these smart meters for the AMI,” said ERC Chairperson and CEO Agnes VST Devanadera explained.
Meralco filed its application for approval of its AMI project with the ERC in March 2017 in accordance with the “Rules to Govern the Implementation of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) by Distribution Utilities and other ERC-Authorized Entities”. The pending application involves one million smart meters.
In connection with its AMI application, Meralco included the smart meters and other devices and systems necessary to implement its AMI project in its application for capital expenditures in April 2017.
The subject Rules, which was promulgated in May 2016, requires ERC approval prior to the implementation of any AMI project. Furthermore, it provides that the cost of all meters, devices, hardware, software and processes necessary to implement the approved AMI project, whether offering basic and/or supplemental services, may be passed on to consumers subject to the applicable ERC rules and regulations on capital and operational expenditure approvals.
The implementation of the AMI will promote demand side management and energy efficiency as it provides tools or services that empower consumers to manage their consumption. The AMI is also expected to enhance the operational efficiency of the distribution utility and the reliability of its network. The AMI will support Retail Competition and Open Access, once in place.
“We welcome these state-of-the-art technologies that will help consumers manage their electricity consumption. However, we must see to it that the installation of these Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) should not adversely affect the consumers in terms of paying higher electricity rates.
We must protect the welfare and interests of our electricity consumers considering that our rates is one of the highest in the region and the government’s thrust is to make our electricity rates competitive and reasonable,” Devanadera said.