MANILA — The Department of Energy (DOE) could investigate Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco’s) PhP0.42 per kilowatthour (kWh) rate hike this month upon the filing of a complaint.

“If DOE gets a complaint — we have to act — we’ll talk to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC),” DOE Secretary Zenaida Monsada told reporters Tuesday.

However, she stressed the Commission holds the jurisdiction for the regulation of the rates.

The DOE Secretary explained it could only assist with the investigation from the part of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), as the department serves as its chair.

Monsada further said mitigating measures to cap the trading prices at the WESM were already implemented.

The ERC ordered Meralco to explain the cause of the rate hike for the January bills. It directed the distribution utility to submit the details and bases of its computation for all the billing charges in three days.

Last February 5, Meralco said the overall rate was mainly pushed by the generation charge, which increased by 25 centavos per kWh to PhP4.17 per kWh, due to higher costs from power supply agreements (PSAs).

The distribution utility further bared the hike of PSAs was due to the normalized outage allowances for January’s consumption, which allowed power plants to lower their capacity as one unit of the Calaca and Masinloc power plants was on maintenance shutdown.

It added the lower charges from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) were not enough to offset the increase. Juzel L. Danganan/PNA/