The Energy Regulatory Commission will soon ask electric cooperatives and distribution utilities to extend the “no-disconnection” notice until the end of the year to help consumers cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, an official of the agency said Tuesday.
“That is what we put in the draft…We will also follow the spirit of the laws,” ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera said during the Senate’s budget hearing, when asked by Senator Risa Hontiveros if consumers could expect the disconnection deadline to be extended.
Hontiveros expressed concern on the plight consumers who were affected by the pandemic and who could not afford to lose electricity while staying at home for work and school.
Manila Electric Co., the country’s largest power retailer, earlier announced that its “no-disconnection” policy would lapse by Oct. 31 and was waiting for the ERC to come out with its advisory.
Meralco assured it would be “very considerate” to 7 million consumers.
“We have actually drafted the advisory that will require that we defer the disconnection due to non-payment,” Devanadera said in response to a separate query from Senator Imee Marcos.
“We also want to recognize that many distribution utilities on their own and not even waiting for Bayanihan 2 and not even waiting for instructions or advisories from ERC, have declared their ‘no disconnection’ up to a certain time. We have actually advocated that the disconnection policies of the distribution utilities be relaxed,” the ERC chairperson said.
Devanadera, however, advised consumers including government agencies who could pay to continue settling their electricity bills.
“We are also asking government agencies who have budget for this to please implement their payment to help out the industry. We have to implement down the line. It’s a value chain because most of these amounts to be collected will have to be used for the payment to their suppliers,” she said.