ERC chief tells Meralco, power utilities to refund customers
ERC chair Agnes Devanadera made this clear at the Laging Handa public briefing yesterday, as she scored some power distributors for violating the commission’s order not to charge customers the feed-in tariff allowance and universal charge-environmental charge.
BusinessWorld/File
ERC chief tells Meralco, power utilities to refund customers
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - July 8, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Distribution utilities and electric cooperatives that violated billing rules during the lockdown will be asked to refund the overcharged amount to consumers, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission.

ERC chair Agnes Devanadera made this clear at the Laging Handa public briefing yesterday, as she scored some power distributors for violating the commission’s order not to charge customers the feed-in tariff allowance (FIT-All) and universal charge-environmental charge (UC-EC).

“What we did is we ordered the non-payment of FIT-All for two months to help lower electricity rates. There were some distribution utilities that still charged customers. We also ordered the suspension of the UC-EC collection but some distribution utilities still charged their customers. These are violations of ERC orders,” she said.

The agency ordered the deferral of the FIT-All charge in April and May in consideration of the enhanced community quarantine.

The FIT-All, which covers payments to renewable energy developers, amounts to P0.0495 per kwh and is collected by the National Transmission Corp. (TransCo).

Meanwhile, the ERC indefinitely suspended the collection of UC-EC amounting to P0.0025 per kwh beginning in June.

In view of the violations, Devanadera said the power regulator would issue an order today, directing distribution utilities and electric cooperatives to refund their customers immediately.

“We’ve written those that committed violations of their administrative sanctions. At times like this, they should not violate government orders aimed to protect the people,” she said.

The ERC chief’s statement came after the Senate committee on energy asked the agency to penalize distribution utilities that failed to comply with its advisories and directives aimed at alleviating the financial difficulties of Filipino power consumers reeling from strict quarantine measures.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the Senate committee on energy received at least 204 complaints from 179 complainants. Out of the 179 complainants, 176 are complaints against Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and three against several electric cooperatives.

Even the senator himself complained about his billing statement for the month of May, pointing out that Meralco failed to explain that the adjustments had already been made when he was billed P23,000 for his accumulated electricity consumption from March to May.

Meralco’s violations included failure to clearly indicate the word “estimate” on the bill, as well as provide line item breakdown for monthly installment. Meralco was also faulted for collecting UC-EC and FIT-ALL during the period specified in ERC advisories, according to the senator.

Citing a report from the ERC, Gatchalian said at least six distribution utilities have violated the ERC advisories. These are Olongapo Electricity Distribution Co, Misamis Oriental II Electric Cooperative Inc., Camarines Sur II Electric Cooperative Inc., Central Negros Electric Cooperative Inc., Iloilo III Electric Cooperative Inc. and Batangas II Electric Cooperative Inc.

The ERC had received 47,000 bill complaints via text, e-mail and its official Facebook page.

Devanadera said Meralco president and CEO Ray Espinosa himself had assured ERC that corrective measures would be put in place after customers experienced bill shock with their March to June electricity bills.

“Meralco vowed to implement corrective measures and that they will refund the overpayments made by their customers,” she said.

ERC MERALCO
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with