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ERC seeks LGUs’ help to allow entry of meter readers

To steer clear of obfuscated electric bills, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has pleaded to the local government units (LGUs) to allow entry of the meter readers in their areas even on the advent of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) declaration — primarily in the service areas of power utility giant Manila Electric Company.

The regulatory body said the leadership of cities, municipalities and even barangays must at least be “lenient with meter readers of the distribution utilities and allow them to conduct their meter reading activities.”

The curtailment on people’s movement, akin to what happened in April and May, had precipitated the enforcement of “estimated billings” during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and MECQ rescripts in the country – but that proved disastrous because the servicing DUs were eventually swamped with massive complaints on the billings issued to their customers.

Preventing the recurrence of such nightmarish experience is clearly the ERC’s goal, because even its people and resources had been overburdened with complaints in the past months.

“We urge the LGUs under the MECQ to allow the distribution utilities’ meter readers, with properly issued IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) pass and in complete personal protective equipment, to conduct actual meter reading to enable the DUs to reflect and bill the consumers’ actual electricity consumption in order to avoid possible bill shocks,” ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera asserted.

The Department of Energy (DOE) similarly indicated that it re-issued its order during the ECQ and MECQ periods on the provision of IATF IDs for essential workers in the energy sector, and that will include the meter readers.

The ERC also nudged the power utilities that aside from the requisite IDs and PPEs for their meter reader-personnel, they must also ensure ease of mobility for them by providing transportation while they perform their tasks.

The regulatory body indicated that until now, its Consumer Affairs Service (CAS) unit is still tackling torrent of grievances from consumers, hence, it cannot afford to be deluged with even more complaints.
Devanadera stressed “we are being proactive this time in order to prevent another episode of the surge of consumer complaints due to the failure of the DUs to conduct actual meter reading.”

The ERC chief thus reiterated “we are appealing to the LGUs to allow and extend any needed assistance to the meter readers to prevent a second wave of bill shock.”

And to continually address consumers’ grumblings over questionable billings, power interruptions and even technical glitch concerns, the ERC apprised Filipino consumers that it expanded its communication toolbox primarily to handle these concerns lodged before it for scrutiny and action.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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