You only pay for actual consumption
Meralco Assures Consumers They Will Only Pay For Actual Consumption
by Cris Laraño
It was something you often see in a Japanese company but rarely from a Philippine corporation, especially a large institution.
But on Monday, July 6, 2020, before the Senate Committee on Energy, Meralco President and CEO, Atty. Ray C. Espinosa apologized for an apparent confusion caused by bill estimations – allowed by regulators – during the enhanced community quarantine from March to May.
Espinosa, also promised the energy panel – headed by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian – that a letter of clarification will be sent out to customers. The letter will contain the breakdown of the estimated and actual consumption during the March to May period.
“But let me assure the chair and the committee members, and the public that there is no intention on the part of Meralco to charge a customer and have that customer pay more than the actual consumption registered in the meter,” he told the Senate.
Meralco had earlier issued several explanations to detail the bill estimations done for March, April and, in some cases, May in compliance with the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) rules during emergencies that prevent meter readers from being deployed. Even with earlier bulletins, a number of the power distributor’s over six million customers still complained, because of the shock caused by charges for several months squeezed into a single month.
Senator Risa Hontiveros appreciated Meralco’s decision to allow customers to settle the bills during the quarantine period in equal installments of up to six months as advised by the ERC, but underscored confusion caused by letters that accompanied the June bills.
Meralco has undertaken several steps to help ease customers financial burdens caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as invoking the Force Majeure provision of its Power Supply Agreements. On top of the ERC’s suspension of certain charges, these effectively kept electricity rates low in March and April, and even lower in May and June.
In some cases, Espinosa said, Meralco even went beyond the coverage of the ERC’s advisories. Among these is widening the period covered by the installment period to the start of March to the end of May, instead of March 15 to May 31 as advised by the ERC. Customers with consumption of 200 kWh or lower in February could avail of a six-month repayment period for consumption during the ECQ period while whose usage was 201 kWh or higher could pay the ECQ bill in equal installments over 4 months.
Espinosa also told the Senate that Meralco has set a moratorium on service disconnection until September 30 this year. He earlier told the House of Representatives that service disconnection won’t be implemented until after August 31, 2020.
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Story originally posted on Power Club.