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ERC orders Meralco to issue new billings

By Myrna M. Velasco

Power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has been directed to issue new billings that will reflect the four- and six-month payment installment cycles prescribed by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Agnes T. Devanadera

ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera

ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera indicated that for those in the consumption range of 200 kilowatt-hour (kwh) and less during the March 16-May 31, 2020 of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ (MECQ) periods, the length of payments shall be stretched to six months starting June to November this year.

And for consumers with usage of more than 200 kwh, the billing payments shall be subdivided into four installments from June to September of this year.
The DUs were likewise required “to conduct actual meter readings,” and then “issue a new billing reflecting the actual consumption and the corresponding amount due, not later than June 8, 2020, except when actual reading is not possible due to implementation of community quarantine.”

Meralco Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said the utility firm will have to “operationalize” the mandate of the ERC, hence, the issuance of new billings with the required format would have to be carried out by the utility firm.

He similarly noted that for the billings in March and April that had just been based on “estimates” as anchored on previous three-month billings that had been earlier prescribed by the ERC, he emphasized that any overbilling or underbilling will be rectified in the June billing cycle; when actual meter readings would have already been executed and completed by the utility firm.

“We will comply with the ERC order and will operationalize it bearing in mind and ensuring that our customers will understand their bill,” Zaldarriaga said, adding that “we will support the implementation using various information materials and platforms to make it easy to understand.”

In the ERC order, it mandated distribution utilities like Meralco “to allow their electricity customers with monthly consumption of 200 kWh and below in February 2020, a staggered payment of up to six (6) equal monthly installments for the electricity bills falling due within the ECQ and MECQ periods,” further instructing that the monthly amortization shall kick off “not earlier than June 15, 2020, without penalties, interests and other fees.”

And for end-users in the consumption range of higher than 200 kwh as referenced on February 2020 billing cycle, “DUs shall allow a staggered payment of up to four (4) equal monthly installments for their electricity bills falling due within the ECQ and MECQ periods,” and the first monthly amortization shall also start by June and without penalties, interests and other fees also.

The ERC emphasized that subsequent installments on bills “will be due every 15th of the month starting July 2020 until fully settled.” Relative to this order, the regulator has instructed DUs to “notify their customers of the monthly installment falling due.”

“Electricity bills falling due in June 2020 shall be paid not earlier than June 30, 2020 without penalties, interest and other fees,” the ERC has further stipulated.

The ERC similarly decreed that “availment of prompt payment discount may be subjected to negotiation between the contracting parties, and DUs are reminded that benefits from such availment are required to be shared with their customers.”


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://business.mb.com.ph/2020/05/22/erc-orders-meralco-to-issue-new-billings/)

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