Droughts next year and Cheaper Water rates offer from Maynilad

We are hoping for a prosperous Christmas and New Year in the coming days but beginning next month until March 2024, we must not forget that Metro Manila, Cavite and 43 other provinces will experience “drought’ conditions (more than 60 percent reduction in average rainfall) while twenty-eight others, including Batangas, Laguna Rizal and Quezon will be hit by dry spells (lower than 60 percent reduction from average rainfall).  

These scenarios require speedy government action to put on very high priority,  water sustainability and security, particularly for prime urban areas like Metro Manila, Calabarzon and other urban centers.

Yesterday, MWSS held a public hearing on Maynilad’s revised concession agreement (RCA), and a lot of important things were revealed. Maynilad says they have a massive infrastructure plan to increase their served population to 11.8 million customers within their designated concession area by 2047.  An ambitious investment program of  P222-B will also address multiple facets of water management and infrastructure to ensure long term water availability and water resources.

In the said hearing, Maynilad sought the approval of MWSS to extend their RCA to another ten years to 2047 to allow its customers to generate savings in their water bills and at the same time, strengthen their operational and financial capabilities. With a longer period of cost recovery, tariff increase will be reduced translating to real savings to its consumers, households, and business alike.

Water costs will increase by 58.56 percent, computed on a one-time basis, if the extension is not granted. But if allowed to extend to 2047 as mandated by its congressional franchise under RA 1160 enacted December 2021, a lower tariff adjustment of only 35.61 percent will be realized. This means that an average Maynilad residential customer who uses 30 cubic meter of water monthly will save as much as P212 every month as assumed in the recent rate rebasing.

Maynilad President Ramoncito S. Fernandez says, “The extension represents a mutually beneficial arrangement for Maynilad and our valued customers. Beyond our commitment to ensuring a sustainable water future, it underscores our dedication to making our services more affordable to our consumers. By reducing the necessary tariff increase, we’re making water services more affordable, making life better for the communities we serve,”

Today, Maynilad has increased 24-hour supply to 96 percent of its customers, a dramatic spike from only 32 percent in 2006.  Water pressure delivery improved to 87 percent from previous 45 percent.  By 2027, Maynilad aims to extend its coverage to 103,084 customers or 700,000 people gaining access to potable water. It also plans to recover about 585 million liters per day via leak mitigation.

Key components of the company’s expansion are the establishment 450 MLD (million liters per day) water treatment plants, 43 MLD modular treatment plans and 90 MLD “NEW WATER” treatment plants.  These facilities are poised to significantly augment the capacity to provide Safe and clean water to the ever-expanding population.

On the New Centennial Water Source initiatives, Maynilad is a strong advocate of expanding existing ones and creating new sources such as Kaliwa dam. This new source is designed to address the increasing water demand in the service areas, by providing as much as 600 MLD, complementing the Angat Dam.

We are elated that our water concessionaires, such as Maynilad working together with MWSS in ensuring sustainable water availability and security. This gives great relief to our citizenry who, time and again, are victims of water inadequacies.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, the droughts and dry spells are coming, and it almost always hit us every year. 

We entrust the government and private concessioners to protect us with real and strong sense of responsibility for the benefit of us citizens, our nation, and this planet. (end)

ERC should clarify Meralco’s alleged “P1.5-B refund” for over-billed customers

Meralco insists as untrue, recent published allegations that they are overcharging customers since 2012. First VP and regulatory management head Jose Ronald Valles said company’s rates undergo a review and confirmation process to ensure they are fair and reasonable, and they have no power to unilaterally set its own rates. All rates in the electricity bills of customers were approved by the regulator following a very stringent and transparent process of public hearings.

“I would like to reiterate that as a highly regulated entity, Meralco strictly adheres to the rules governing its operations and franchise , and the rates we implement always have prior approval from the regulator. These are still subject to periodic confirmation process by the ERC,” Valles said. “The proper venue for discussing  refund claims is the ERC, which has the rate-setting power, and the regulator has already decided on a refund totaling P48 billion, which Meralco implemented in a timely manner,” he said.

On the other side , former ERC Commissioner Alfredo Non, insists that Meralco customers are still entitled to refunds amounting to P2700 a month for those consuming 200kwh monthly P9,500 a month for 300 kwh monthly, P15,000 a month for 400 kwh monthly and P52,000 a month for those consuming 1,000 kwhs a month.

The refund, according to him, is due to Meralco charging P1.47 per kwh while the provisional authority rate was for only P1.38/kwh. And from 2012 until now, this means we are overbilled by P0.09 per kwh. Non reiterated that “P150 billion” should be returned to us and he has submitted a proposed computation for ERC’S evaluation. “There are two issues here “the wrong computation from 2012 to 2015 and recomputation and non-adjustment of Meralco’s weighted average cost of capital (WACC), he said.

Valles, insists that “the proper venue for discussing the refund claims is the ERC, which has the rate-setting power and the regulator has already decided on a refund totaling P48 billion, which Meralco implemented in a timely manner,” he said

On the other hand, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian says consumers should not pay more than what is proper. He said the original date set by the ERC to finalize the results of the WACC review  and reset for distribution utilities should be done by March 2024. This has been delayed already by more than a year, he said.

So there, the ball is now on the court of new Energy Regulatory commission Chairman and CEO Monalisa R. Dimalanta who incidentally was chair of the National Renewable Energy Board and former compliance officer and chief legal counsel of Aboitiz Group. Let us be vigilant and monitor if she clarifies  this issue by March next year.