ERC to assess disconnection rules for consumers

ERC merlaco

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), as part of its scheduled review of the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers, would consider the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the rights of energy users with regard to unwarranted service disconnections. 

In a report by the Manila Bulletin, ERC Chairperson Monalisa C. Dimalanta shared that the ERC will analyze the whole judgment once they obtain a copy and see if there are any areas where the regulations need to be improved or added to. 

Dimalanta also pointed out that the Magna Carta contains a clause requiring a 48-hour notice before disconnection.

The court ruling came after Lucy Yu filed a complaint as she claimed that on December 9, 1999, representatives from Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) forcibly entered her office at New Supersonic Industrial Corporation (NSIC) on December 9, 1999, and turned off the electricity in both Yu’s home and the business. 

In the Supreme Court (SC) ruling, it proclaimed that under Section 4 (a) of the Republic Act 7832 or Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/ Materials Pilferage Act of 1994, MERALCO must first issue consumers a prior written warning before disconnecting electric service. 

The high court emphasized that the customers must get a written notification at least 48 hours before the disconnection, following due process requirements. 

Meanwhile, MERALCO said that it respects the decision of the SC ruling, although it noted that the incident happened way back in 1999. 

MERALCO spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga said that although the energy firm has yet to get a copy of the ruling, it will abide by it. The distribution company said that it has always been its policy to serve 48-hour prior notice before disconnecting any service “to comply with the due process requirements.” 

It is worth mentioning that the entire power industry was reorganized and the responsibility for industry regulation was given to the ERC when the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) was passed in 2001. 

In 2004, the Magna Carta for consumers was institutionalized by the ERC, and the rules that govern the 48-hour prior notice to disconnection were prescribed under Section 19.