At a virtual press briefing yesterday, Meralco AVP and head of public information office Joe Zaldarriaga said the company is set to complete the meter readings of 2.8 million of its customers or around 40 percent of its total customers who were not able to receive their electricity bills in May.
Boy Santos, file
Meralco sets installment payment for March-June bills
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Customers of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) can expect higher electricity bills this month as it will include actual consumption for the four months of the quarantine period. However, an installment payment scheme would be offered to help ease the consumers’ burdens.

At a virtual press briefing yesterday, Meralco AVP and head of public information office Joe Zaldarriaga said the company is set to complete the meter readings of 2.8 million of its customers or around 40 percent of its total customers who were not able to receive their electricity bills in May.

Zaldarriaga said the company was not allowed to do meter readings since March 16 due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), but has already started reading meters for actual consumption in May.

“This June, please expect that all of the 2.8 million customers would have their meters read and receive bills with their actual consumption,” Zaldarriaga said.

He added that consumers should expect that their June bills are higher than their usual bills as it includes the actual consumption for the months of March until June.

A detailed explanation on the computation for the four months will be included in their June bills.

Zaldarriaga, however, emphasized that consumers would only be required to pay one-fourth of their bill by the end of the month.

The said three-fourths of the balance of the total could be paid through installments in the coming months.

Meralco is offering four- to six-month installment payment schemes. This is in line with the recent directive of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for staggered payment.

Those consuming 200 kilowatt-hours (kwh) and below would be given six months to pay the total balance, while those consuming 201 kwh and above will be given a four-month installment. Meralco said this would be based on their February 2020 consumption.

Agnes Macob, head of Meralco Commercial Operations, said consumers who opt for the installment plan would receive two bills every month, particularly their regular bill and a separate one for the installment bill.

For those under the six-month installment scheme, the first installment bill will be issued on July 15, while the sixth and last installment bill will be issued on Dec. 15.

In contrast, for the four-month installment plan, the first installment bill will be issued on July 15, while the last will be on Oct. 15.

“All the customers who were not able to settle their March, April and May bill will be automatically included in the installment payment,” Macob said.

Zaldarriaga said customers who have paid their estimated March and April bill would see adjustments in their next bill.

“We’re hoping that the installment plan will be our way of helping them managing their payments,” Zaldarriaga said.

Larry Fernandez, head of Meralco Utility Economics, said payment collection from customers was as low as three percent in April due to the community quarantine.

“Starting May, we have seen a gradual increase in payments from customers. Once the different payment channels had opened, the customers have also been trying to pay their bills,” he added.

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