Meralco appeals penalty imposed by ERC for high electricity billing

Electricity retailer Manila Electric Co. said Monday it appealed the P19-million fine imposed by the Energy Regulatory Commission for allegedly violating the advisories issued by the agency during the community quarantine period covering March to July.

“They filed an MR (motion for reconsideration) on our decision on the SCO [show cause order],” ERC commissioner and spokesman Floresinda Digal said.

Digal said the commission would evaluate the motion filed by Meralco against the ERC order dated Aug. 20 for failure to clearly indicate that the bills were estimated and failed to comply with the mandated installment payment arrangement.

The agency said based on its evaluation, Meralco incurred a total number of 190 days of violation.

Meralco head of regulatory management Jose Valles earlier said the company would study the order and “file the appropriate pleading after consultation with our lawyers.”

The ERC also directed Meralco to set to zero the distribution, supply and metering charges of lifeline consumers whose monthly energy consumption does not exceed 100 kilowatt-hours for one month effective the next billing cycle immediately upon receipt of the subject ERC decision.

It said the retail rate discount would provide temporary economic relief to more than 2 million lifeline consumers and their family members for at least a month. The DSM comprised 22.4 percent of the total retail rate.

The total discount to be provided to all lifeline consumers was estimated to be around P200 million, which should not be charged to the non-lifeline consumers.

Meralco earlier announced it would voluntary provide power rate discount totaling P101 million as relief to 2.77 million lifeline customers to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company planned to extend the discount to 2.77 million lifeline customers or those with a monthly consumption of 100 kilowatt-hours and below.

The move, however, was put on hold due to the latest decision of the ERC.

Meralco received flak from thousands of customers over the high power rates received during the quarantine period, prompting ERC, the Department of Energy and the lawmakers to conduct separate investigations. Meralco has since apologized for the bill shock suffered by consumers during the ECQ and assured lawmakers that customers were only charged for electricity they actually consumed.

The ERC is also evaluating the violations committed by other distribution utilities and electric cooperatives during the quarantine period.

Topics: Meralco appeals penalty imposed by ERC for high electricity billing
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