The Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Manila Electric Co. to explain the basis in calculating the kilowatthour (kWh) consumption of customers for the billing periods of March to May during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine directive in Luzon.
Meralco, meanwhile, vowed to look for ways to ease the burden of its nearly seven million consumers.
The ERC sent the letter to Meralco, the country’s biggest electricity retailer, on May 15 after receiving numerous complaints from customers.
“We have been bombarded with complaints on Meralco’s alleged high billings covering the past three months, including this May, and we need to look into these consumers’ allegations that we required Meralco to submit to us data or information for us to validate the accuracy of their billing calculations,” said ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera.
Meralco computed some of the March and all April billings based on the past three months’ average daily consumption, following the Distribution Services and Open Access Rules issued by the ERC.
The ERC also directed Meralco and other distribution utilities to implement a four-month installment payment period on the billings to ease the burden of consumers.
Despite the move, the ERC, Meralco and the Energy Department received numerous complaints of high billings in May.
“We are adhering to our mandate of ensuring that the interest of the consuming public is promoted and protected,” Devanadera said.
Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said the utility would provide all the possible options for the convenience of the consumers amid the turmoil.
“We will continue to explore ways to ease the situation for our consumers bearing in mind their convenience and interest. As soon as there will be new developments, we will most certainly communicate that to our customers,” he said.
ERC spokesperson Floresinda Digal said the agency was monitoring the situation when asked about the possibility of further extending the installment payment longer than four-months.
“We will explore options available to unburden the consumers,” Digal said.
The ERC directed Meralco to submit several documents within five days from receipt of the letter.
These include the basis on the determination of the kWh consumption of the customers during the ECQ, especially for the March-to-May billing periods and power bills issued by the suppliers used in the computation of the generation rate for the same billing period.
The ERC also asked Meralco to submit invoices from National Grid Corp. of the Philippines used in the computation of the transmission and the uniform reportorial requirement on the same billing period.
“The data that we required of Meralco will enable the Commission to determine if Meralco has indeed complied with the relevant rules issued by ERC, such as the Distribution Services and Open Access Rules or DSOAR, and implemented accurately the pertinent Advisories that we issued on 15 April and 5 May 2020 relating to the implementation of Pass Thru Charges to the consumers,” Devanadera said.