ERC chair: Meralco to correct, refund alleged bill irregularities
CALOOCAN CITY, July 8 (PIA) — The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Tuesday said Meralco committed to fix or refund alleged irregularities in electric bills issued to its consumers amid the lockdowns to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the Laging Handa public briefing powered by the Presidential Communications and affiliate media, ERC Chairperson lawyer Agnes Devanadera detailed some of the commitments made by the president of the power distribution giant.
“May maganda namang nangyari at kinalabasan dahil mismong ang presidente ng Meralco, si Atty. Rey Espinosa, ang nagsabi kung ano ang kanilang mga gagawin at ang isa diyan ay sisiguraduhin nila na may mga corrective measures sila,” Devenadera said of an earlier Senate Committee on Energy hearing called by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, its current chairperson.
“Ang commitment ng Meralco, hindi naman sila magpuputol hanggang September 30,” she said.
“So by that time, corrected na ‘yan at ire-refund nila ‘yung sobrang nabayad. Ngayon pa lang ay nagko-compute na sila. ‘Yun ang maganda roon,” she added.
“Kahapon naman nag-commit na ang Meralco. Sinasabi nilang ire-refund. Ang sinabi ni Mr. Rey Espinosa ay magpupunta lang sa Meralco at bibigyan na ng refund,” she furthered.
The official said the ERC so far received over 47,000 electricity bill grievances and complaints nationwide via its social media accounts and other official channels. The complaints, however, were not only hurled against Meralco, as there are other smaller distribution utilities in the country’s energy industry.
“Katulad ng nabanggit n’yo kanina, ang naghain ng reklamo sa ERC ay 47,000 na. Itong mga reklamo na ito, ‘yung nag-text, marami ang e-mails tapos sa Facebook page ng ERC,” Devenadera said.
“In other words, lahat ng mga reklamo, hindi kinakailangang nakasulat o pinadala sa amin o physically pumunta sa ERC, lahat ito na hinaing ng ating mga kababayan ay pinagtutuunan namin ng pansin,” she added.
She said there were cases of Meralco customers complaining about the confusion on bills that are estimated from those that were actually read.
“Totoo na may rules ang ERC na dapat ay estimate, pero sinabi rin ng ERC, sa aming advisory, na dapat nakasaad din alin doon ang estimate,” she said.
“Ang pinagbabatayan nga niyan ay ‘yung average ng past three months. Alam din naman natin na naroon na ‘yung tinatawag na load profile,” she added.
“Maski nasa opisina, mga bahay ay may mga lugar na walang pumapasok dahil ipinagbabawal na nga so itong guidelines o advisory ay dapat tinalima nang husto ng distribution utilities kasama ang Meralco,” she furthered.
“Nasasaad din naman na the moment na magkaroon na ng meter reading, dapat i-correct at saka sinabi rin naman ng ERC na huwag maniningil hanggang hindi lifted,” she explained.
“Doon sa mga series of advisories na sinabi at ipinag-utos ng ERC na June 15 ang kauna-unahang date o petsa na pwedeng pagbayarin ang mga tao sa installment sa mga bills covering the ECQ [enhanced community quarantine] months – March, April and May,” she added.
To recall, in May, many Meralco customers experienced “shock” after receiving the estimated consumption billed to them. This covered the period when ECQ was implemented and meter-reading activities were suspended. (PIA NCR)