The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. said Monday the 121 electric cooperatives in the country complied with all the directives of regulators to protect the interests of consumers during the enhanced community quarantine period.
“PHILRECA, together with the 121 electric cooperatives operating nationwide, would like to express its unwavering support to government regulators as well as compliance with its directives in ensuring the welfare and interest of electricity consumers,” PHILRECA executive director and general manager Janeene Depay-Colingan said.
The Energy Regulatory Commission earlier warned distribution utilities including PHILRECA members that the non-compliance with the directives of the commission would be subject to sanctions.
PHILRECA said ECs were complying with all the advisories and issuances of government regulatory agencies, including the Department of Energy and the ERC. These include the directive to provide a grace period for all electricity consumers to pay their bills falling due within the ECQ period, without interests, penalties, fees and charges.
It said consumers were given discretion whether to pay in full or in staggered method without interests, penalties or the possibility of disconnection of service.
PHILRECA said that with respect to meter reading, a number of ECs resorted to estimated billing (average of previous months’ billing) due to mobility restrictions during the quarantine period.
“ERC has given instructions to use estimated billing to avoid the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 in compliance with the Inter-Agency Task Force issuances,” the group said.
“As of this billing period, ECs have returned to using actual/physical meter reading and have started using such readings to their billing statements,” it said.
PHILRECA confirmed in certain occasions, some consumers raised their concerns on higher electricity bills during the quarantine period.
The group said the ECs conducted an information dissemination campaign to explain the factors contributing to high electricity consumption. Some power coops also reached out to their respective local government units to explain such circumstances.
“All ECs have consumer welfare desks where MCOs can reach out to in the event that they would be needing any clarification in their billing statements,” PHILRECA said.
The ERC directed DUs to allow their electricity customers with monthly consumption of 200 kilowatt-hours and below in February a staggered payment of up to six equal monthly installments for their electricity bills falling due within the ECQ and modified ECQ periods.
The ECQ period started on March 15 for the National Capital Region and ended May 15. NCR transitioned to MECQ on May 16.
The regulator said the first monthly amortization of the staggered payment should not be made earlier than June 15, without penalties, interests and other fees.
For electricity customers with monthly consumption of above 200 kWh in February, DUs were asked allow a staggered payment of up to four equal monthly installments for their electricity bills falling due within the ECQ and MECQ periods.