Power distribution giant Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) said on Tuesday that it would look into Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ proposal to extend its instalment scheme for consumers who continue to suffer from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hontiveros, in a statement, warned that MERALCO’s imposition of stricter payment policies might lead to a “disconnected nation.” The country’s largest electric utility firm previously extended its no-disconnection policy until January 31 following a request from House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, who once chaired the House energy committee.
MERALCO Vice President and Head of Utility Economics Lawrence Fernandez responded to Hontiveros at the joint hearing of the Senate energy and finance committees, saying that the firm will look into her proposal.
Back in October 2020, the Energy Regulatory Commission issued an advisory barring distribution utilities from disconnecting accounts of households with low energy consumption due to non-payment of bills until the end of the year.
Hontiveros made the suggestion, noting in her statement that MERALCO reportedly began sending out disconnection notices to regular customers, or those consuming 201 kilowatt hours monthly, who have unpaid dues.
Power disconnections have been postponed several times in 2020, as many customers were unable to settle their electric bills due to the lockdowns as a result of the pandemic.