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Business

Meralco ordered to refund P7.8B to consumers

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Meralco ordered to refund P7.8B to consumers
This file photo shows Meralco workers.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will refund a total of P7.76 billion in over-recoveries to its consumers starting this month over a period of one year, following an order from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

This translates to a refund of around P0.47 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for Meralco's residential customers, or P93 for residential households consuming 200 kWh, ERC Commissioner Floresinda Baldo-Digal told Philstar.com in an online message on Thursday. 

Of the P7.76 billion, Meralco will have to refund majority or P4.87 billion to residential and general service A (RGSA) customers or P0.4669 per kWh, according to a ERC order issued on March 8. 

The refund is set to take place over a period of 12 months, starting this month's billing cycle. 

Meralco will also process refunds for its other customers, based on the order. They include those in:

  • General power (those who consume at least 40 kilowatts)- P2.35 billion or P0.1334 per kWh 
     
  • General Service B- P441.84 million or P0.3063 per kWh
     
  • Flat street lights operations- P43.54 million or P0.4853 per kWh
     
  • Government hospitals, Metered Streetlights and Charitable institutions (GHMSCI)- P32.42 million or P0.1971 per kWh
     
  • Generator wheeling- P15.58 million or P0.0619 per kWh

Over-recoveries

Digal explained they recomputed Meralco's regulatory asset base (RAB) for the years 2012 to 2015, and found that there was an over-recovery during the period.

"Meralco is hereby directed to reflect the refund rate as a separate line item in the bills of its customers during the refund period," ERC's order read. 

ERC also said that it is issuing an interim relief to allow Meralco to implement the refund in order to "ensure the promotion of consumer interest."

Larry Fernandez, Meralco vice president and Utility Economics head, confirmed to Philstar.com in an online message that the company has received the order and that it will implement the refund in time for the May billing. 

Consumer rights and energy advocacy group Power for People Coalition (P4P) said it is not pleased with P7.76 refund, adding that it is an "insult" to consumers who will have to wait for one year before the amount is fully returned to them,

"We know very well that what they intend to give back is chump change compared to the billions more unjustly charged by Meralco - over 40 billion, to be exact, for the declared regulatory period based on records of previous hearings," P4P said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION

ERC

MANILA ELECTRIC CO.

MERALCO

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