The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) revised the existing bill deposit rules, now requiring power distributors to submit reports on bill deposits and earned interests collected from consumers.
The issued draft “Rules to Govern the Monitoring and Reporting Process of Bill Deposits” contains provisions on the preparation and submission of periodic reports on or before December 31 every year, under oath, which will include the details of the total amount of bill deposit collected, interest earned, and the amount credited or refunded to consumers.
The draft rules shall apply to the provisions of Articles 7 and 28 of the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers (MREC), the Guidelines to Implement Articles 7 and 28 of the MREC and the relevant provisions of Distribution Service and Open Access Rules (DSOAR), the ERC said.
“For purposes of transparency, the proposed Rules shall enjoin distribution utilities to maintain and develop in their official websites, consumer information disclosing all important terms and conditions, systems and procedures on bill deposits in clear and comprehensible language for the consumers.” ERC chairperson and CEO Agnes Devanadera said.
The bill deposit shall be equivalent to the estimated billing for one month based on the load schedule of the consumer to guarantee payment of his bills.
Bill deposits collected from residential and non-residential consumers are intended to guarantee the payment of electricity bills for new and/or additional service and from disconnected consumers who were previously not subject to bill deposit.
On October 27, 2004, the ERC issued the Guidelines to Implement Articles 7, 8, 14, and 28 of Chapter III of the MREC which govern, among others, the guidelines and procedures to implement the bill deposits collected from residential and non-residential consumers.
ERC issued notices to conduct focus group discussions (FGDs) on the draft rules, directing electric cooperatives (ECs) to submit their comments and/or inputs.
Earlier, the ERC said it is working on the revisions on bill deposit rules as opposed to findings of Office of the Ombudsman for its three-month suspension on the four commissioners.
ERC commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Asirit, and Geronimo Sta. Ana were ordered a three-month suspension last May due to failure to act on the misuse of bill deposits by distribution utilities (DUs).
According to the ombudsman, the four commissioners consistently refrain from strictly implementing rules defining the nature of bill deposits as “mere guarantee in payment of bills” which must be returned upon termination of the DUs’ service.
Malacañang directed the ERC to implement the suspension of the ERC commissioners in an order signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea last week.