ERC urged to suspend MERALCO rate hike amid Red Alert probe


Sen. Risa Hontiveros has asked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to suspend the increase in power rates while the investigation on rotational blackouts is still ongoing, saying that the price hike is “inconsiderate” of consumers.

Hangga’t walang napapanagot sa nangyaring rotational blackouts, hindi dapat na magdagdag-singil pa sa kuryente. Unfair naman ito sa konsyumer na magpapasan na naman sa kapabayaan nila. Hindi ito dapat hinahayaan ng ERC bilang regulator,” Hontiveros said in a statement. 

The Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) announced last week that it will increase rates as a result of last month’s Red Alerts, which led to the rotational brownouts.

Hontiveros also asked for the suspension of the Automatic Generation Rate Adjustment (AGRA). Under the AGRA guidelines, distribution utilities (DUs) like MERALCO are allowed to automatically adjust their generations and systems loss rates on a monthly basis, subject to consequent confirmation by the ERC, even without petitions and public hearing. 

The ERC will then determine any under or over recoveries in the DUs implementation of the AGRA and issue appropriate orders for the collection or refund of such under or over recoveries. 

The senator also said that the regulator should impose sanctions or penalties that will give relief to consumers such as refund or temporary suspension of rate increase for distribution and transmission charges instead of allowing “absurd” rate adjustments that will continue to burden the consumers.

“ERC should be proactive in enforcing penalties. Para rin may nadadala. Nakasanayan na kasi na maniningil muna bago irerefund na lang. Bakit hindi natin baguhin ang practice na ito? Hangga’t wala pang nase-settle, wala munang dagdag-singil,” Hontiveros said.

Last month, Hontiveros also called on the ERC to investigate whether MERALCO’s rate increase back then was acceptable, as the Department of Energy claimed that there was enough supply of power when the grid was placed on yellow and red alerts in the first week of June.

Malaking halaga na para sa kanila ang matitipid kung hindi magtataas ng singil sa kuryente. Nasa gitna pa rin tayo ng pandemya, kaya’t importante na ang ordinaryong Pilipino muna ang ikonsidera kaysa ano pa mang kita,” she said.