Philippine court extends order halting Meralco power tariff hike

MANILA Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:12am EST

MANILA Feb 18 (Reuters) - The Philippine Supreme Court extended on Tuesday an order to stop Manila Electric Co (Meralco), the biggest power utility in the Philippines, from raising electricity tariffs.

Meralco wants to hike rates by a record high 4.15 pesos ($0.09) per kilowatt hour, citing increased fuel costs. The central bank, however, forecast a 15-basis-point increase in its inflation estimate this year if and when the power rate hike is implemented.

The latest court order puts the rate hike on hold until April 22, court spokesman Theodore Te said.

The first order to delay the increase was issued on Dec 23 after petitions from lawmakers.

Meralco says it needs to increase the tariff because it was forced to buy expensive electricity from the spot market last year after the temporary shutdown of several natural gas-fired power plants that supply it.

The company was seeking regulatory approval to recover from its customers as much as 11 billion pesos in deferred generation costs, the BusinessWorld newspaper reported on Monday.

Shares in Meralco were 1.5 percent higher as of 0650 GMT, providing some support to a market that was up 0.3 percent.

(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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