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ERC warns DUs on non-compliance on ‘payment installment’

By Myrna M. Velasco

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has sternly warned the distribution utilities that if they will violate regulatory mandates – primarily on the enforcement of payment installments for bills covering the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and if they will overbill consumers – they will be meted with fines and penalties.

As stated by ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera, “DUs that will be found and proven to have breached our directives during the national emergency and deviated from the intent of the President to alleviate the financial difficulties of the Filipino people during the crisis will be penalized through the imposition of appropriate fines pursuant to relevant rules and laws.”

Last week, the ERC issued a clear-cut order that the DUs like Manila Electric Company (Meralco) will need to issue new billings that will manifest the mandated installment payments of four months for end-users with consumption of 201 kilowatt-hours (kWhs) and higher; then six months for those with usage of 200 kWh and below. The covered bills will be from March 16 to May 31 or during the ECQ and modified ECQ enforcements in various parts of the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Devanadera said three DUs are covered by the ERC order with four and six-month installments. Aside from Meralco, the same directive applies to Visayan Electric Company (VECO) and First Laguna Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FLECO).

For the rest of the privately owned DUs and electric cooperatives (ECs), the stretch of payments will be for four equal monthly installments from June to September this year.

The ERC said it issued the warning on non-compliance to the DUs and ECs in a correspondence it dispatched to them last Friday (May 22) – primarily addressed to the Philippine Electric Plant Owners Association Inc. (PEPOA); Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA); and the National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives Inc. (NAGMEC).

The order on installment-payments came forth because of the lockdown enforced by the government from March to May; which then resulted in financial drain for most Filipino families especially those who have been affected on their employment by the plague of the health crisis

“We are noting down and keeping records of all the complaints and keeping records of all the complaints that we have received against DUs’ alleged high billings during the ECQ,” Devanadera stressed.

Taking cue from that, she averred “we are sternly warning them that we will not have second thoughts to penalize those DUs who have been remiss or defiant of our orders.”

The regulatory agency further noted that it issued series of advisories (on various dates) “to all DUs during the ECQ period.”

At the same time, the ERC indicated that it “kept an eye on the activities in the electric power industry and introduced some mitigating initiatives, such as the directive to provide a longer grace period and staggering of electricity bill payment.”


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://business.mb.com.ph/2020/05/25/erc-warns-dus-on-non-compliance-on-payment-installment/)

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