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Meralco bares P13.9-b refund to customers in 24 months

Manila Electric Co. said Wednesday it sought the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission to refund customers P13.88 billion, equivalent to P0.1528 per kilowatt-hour, over a 24-month period reflecting the calculation of the actual weighted average tariff compared to the previously approved average rate in 2015.

Meralco said in a petition it computed AWAT at P1.4414 per kWh during the lapsed period, based on the actual revenues and kWh sales. The actual revenues came from distribution, supply and metering charges of Meralco.

“Meralco proposes to refund the difference between the AWAT and IAR in the total amount of P13.885 billion over a 24-month period or until fully refunded,” the company said.

“The issuance of a provisional authority will allow Meralco customers to immediately enjoy the benefits of the refund sought to be implemented, providing welcome relief to consumers during this time,” it said.

The electricity retailer sought the approval to implement the refund as the actual rate Meralco collected was higher than the computed average rate that the ERC determined in the approval of the interim rate.

The refund rate of P0.1528 per kWh would be reflected as a separate line item in the bills of customers during the refund period.

Meanwhile, ERC chairman Agnes Devanadera said during an interview at Teleradyo the extension of the no-disconnection policy would be left to distribution utilities and electric cooperatives.

“If the public is expecting us to issue an order on the no-disconnection policy, we have given that mandate to the distribution utilities because they have different situations,” Devanadera said.

She said distribution utilities and electric cooperatives also needed to sustain their operations to supply electricity.

“We also need to help them. If they [consumers] have the capability to pay, they should pay,” Devanadera said.

She said electric cooperatives were also victims of recent calamities such as typhoons.

Devanadera lauded Meralco for extending the no-disconnection policy from Dec. 31, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021 even without an ERC directive.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Fernandez, Meralco head of utility economics, said the company was guided by the advisory of the ERC in October but even beyond that, they have already extended the disconnection moratorium for consumers using 200 kilowatt-hours or less.

“We will study the suggestion to extend payment terms for customers. We just have to note that out of the total bill of the actual distribution portion is the portion that accrues to Meralco and the rest are pass through charges which we have to settle in full and on time,” Fernandez said.

He said that since the pandemic began last year, Meralco was paying the generation, transmission and other charges to suppliers in full and on time even if they were not able to collect from consumers.

“In effect, we are advancing substantial pass-thru costs, but we will consider that and study that,” Fernandez said.

Topics: Manila Electric Co. , Meralco , Energy Regulatory Commission , actual weighted average tariff
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