Sat. Jul 24th, 2021

MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday expressed hope that Manila Electric Company (Meralco) will address the unprecedented increase in electricity rates charged to its consumers for the month of May.

This, after the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) demanded an explanation from Meralco for its computation of electricity bills for March to May period.

In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque lauded ERC for its swift action to look into the supposed high electricity rates imposed by Meralco during the three billing cycles covering the implementation of the community quarantine nationwide.

“Well, this matter falls within the jurisdiction of the ERC. At nagagalak kami na (And we are elated that) ERC acted swiftly even without intervention from the Palace,” Roque said.

In a letter dated May 15, ERC directed Meralco to explain and show proof of its basis in calculating the kilowatt-hour (kWh) for its customers particularly for the billing periods of March, April, and May 2020.

ERC gave the order following mounting complaints from Meralco subscribers over the purportedly sudden spike in their electricity bills for the month of May.

Roque is optimistic that ERC would craft guidelines that are advantageous to power consumers.

“Sa tingin ko naman po, gagawan iyan ng guidelines ng ERC at ipapatupad naman po ng Meralco (I think, ERC will issue guidelines and Meralco will follow),” he said. “Let’s await first muna kung ano ang gagawin ng ERC dahil ang sabi naman nila they will look into the matter. Tignan po natin, baka makuha na iyan ng ERC guidelines (Let’s await first what ERC will do because they said they will look into the matter. Let’s see. That may be resolved through ERC guidelines).”

Meralco has suspended meter reading activities when the community quarantine was enforced to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Its billing was estimated based on an average of three months’ consumption. For instance, the electricity bill for March, the month when strict quarantine rules were implemented, was based on the consumption in December 2019 and January and February 2020.

ERC and the Department of Energy have ordered distribution utilities and retail electricity suppliers to defer customer electricity bills falling due within the quarantine period sans “interest, penalties, fees, and other charges.”

Consumers were initially given a 30-day grace period for unpaid bills.

The 30-day grace period was later modified, allowing customers to pay bills in installments for up to four months. (IA/PNA)

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