ERC orders Meralco to show proof, explain billing calculations

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The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) released a directive to the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to explain and show proof of basis in calculating the kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption for Meralco consumers during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) implementation, particularly for billing periods of March, April, and May which were allegedly overpriced.

“We have been bombarded with complaints on MERALCO’s alleged high billings covering the past three (3) months, including this May, and we need to look into these consumers’ allegations that we required MERALCO to submit to us data or information for us to validate the accuracy of their billing calculations”, said ERC Chairperson and CEO Agnes VST Devanadera in ERC’s letter.

Under the regulatory body’s letter, Meralco is to submit the following documents within five days: (1) Basis on the determination of the kWh consumption of the captive customers during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) particularly for the billing periods of March, April, and May 2020; (2) Power bills issued by the suppliers used in the computation of the Generation Rate for the same billing period; (3) NGCP invoices used in the computation of the Transmission Rate for the aforesaid billing period; and (4) the Uniform Reportorial Requirement (URR) for the said billing period.

“The data that we required of MERALCO will enable the Commission to determine if MERALCO has indeed complied with the relevant rules issued by ERC, such as the Distribution Services and Open Access Rules or DSOAR, and implemented accurately the pertinent Advisories that we issued on 15 April and 5 May 2020 relating to the implementation of Pass Thru Charges to the consumers. We are adhering to our mandate of ensuring that the interest of the consuming public is promoted and protected”, Chair Devanadera added.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy Senator Sherwin Gatchalian began initial inquiries on Meralco’s billing, specifically on whether or not the distribution company had taken advantage of the current pandemic situation.

“We will also dig deeper into the electricity bill shock issue during the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) hearing this coming Friday on the effects of COVID-19 in the power sector,” Gatchalian was quoted in a statement.

The senator also urged ERC to look into the complaints of the Filipino consumers and ensure that all distribution utilities are complying with the commission’s directives.