Meralco explains spike in May bills
Manila Electric Co. said its customers might see bigger bills in May as billings for the previous two months under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) were likely lower than actual consumption as the lockdown and the hot weather have lengthened the use of household appliances.
Meralco said that since electric meter reading could not be done due to the ECQ in March and April, customers were billed based on their average consumption in the preceding months with cooler weather.
However, households might have actually used more electricity because they remained at home and—especially in April, because of high heat index —used appliances for longer hours.
Regulators have ordered power firms to simply bill their customers their average consumption, and the difference with actual consumption would be settled in future bills.
Consumers were initially given a 30-day grace period for unpaid bills, which was later modified to four monthly installments after the ECQ.
Reacting to reports that customers were shocked on seeing the huge increases in their electricity bills, Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said the “average billing” they followed was pursuant to the Distribution Services and Open Access Rules issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
“The three months that were used as basis—December 2019, January 2020 and February 2020—were considered ‘low consumption’ months as these were significantly cooler months compared to the summer months of March, April and May,” Zaldarriaga said.
He added that, aside from these, factors that might have affected customers’ bill for May include the prolonged use of appliances—especially electric fans, air-conditioners and other cooling machines.
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