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New owners of Napocor plants owe Meralco customers some P4.2-billion in overcharges

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MANILA - Meralco customers can expect additional reductions in their bills that would come on top of the refund by state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp (Psalm), an executive of the country's biggest electricity distributor said.

Larry S. Fernandez, utility economics head of Manila Electric Co, told InterAksyon.com that the company will also go after some P4.2 billion in overcharges made by power firms that acquired some of the plants of state-owned National Power Corp (Napocor).

"ERC's order contains a directive for us to file a petition to claim the double charged amounts from the SGCs," Fernandez said, referring to the successor generating companies.

This after the Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Psalm to refund Meralco customers some P5.2 billion for line loss rentals it imposed on Napocor's power supply contracts. The same rentals had been billed in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

To refund Meralco customers, the ERC directed Psalm to remit to the distributor P73.9 million per month for the next 70 months. The ERC also ordered Psalm to reflect the removal of the line loss rentals in Napocor's rates to Meralco.

Fernandez said Meralco may be able to finalize the computations for the rate reduction from Psalm's refund by April 22.

Meralco initially sought a P9.8 billion refund but the regulator restricted this to the amount that Napocor billed, as some of its power plants had been privatized to the SGCs.

Psalm, which administers the privatization and operations of Napocor's power plants, attached supply contracts carrying the state-owned firm's obligations with customers like Meralco to these privatized assets as contract sweeteners. As such, some SGCs were also able to overcharge Meralco customers.

The SGCs include subsidiaries of AES Corp of the US, Aboitiz Power Corp, San Miguel Corp and DMCI Holdings Inc. The rest of the double-charges owed by the SGCs will be subject to a separate set of regulatory proceedings. 

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