The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has ordered power distributors, including the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), to extend the grace period for payments of regular power customers, or those consuming at least 201 kilowatt hours (kWh), by at least 30 days.
The extension of the grace period covers the time enhanced community quarantine and the modified enhanced community quarantine were implemented.
Should there be any unpaid balance beyond the extended grace period, regular customers can pay these in three equal monthly installments without interests, penalties, and other charges.
The ERC posted its advisory on its website on Thursday, October 29, which means the grace period should be in effect until November 28 at the earliest.
The extension is still in light of the financial difficulties many customers have encountered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as recognized by Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
MERALCO, the country’s largest power distributor, earlier said it would be issuing disconnection notices to regular customers who fail to settle their dues by the end of its original grace period tomorrow, October 31. However, it also said that disconnection is not its priority because of the current situation.
In its recent disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the power giant reported that residential consumption grew in the first nine months of 2020 due to work-from-home arrangements and online classes.
Meanwhile, the ERC also extended the moratorium on payments for lifeline consumers until December 31. Lifeline consumers are those who normally consume a maximum of 200 kWh a month. ERC Chairperson Agnes Devanadera clarified, though, in an interview on Radyo5 that lifeline consumers’ threshold would be doubled since online classes have begun.