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Online petition put up vs soaring power bills in Olongapo City

OLONGAPO CITY –– Thousands of residents in this city are calling for urgent action to stop an electricity distribution company for alleged overpricing and extra charges in their electricity bills for April.

In an online petition on change.org, more than 2,360 consumers of the Olongapo Electricity Distribution Company (OEDC) have signed the call as of Tuesday.

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The petition, written in Filipino, called on Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to intervene as they raised several issues concerning the consumers’ billing since the quarantine began in March.

They questioned the power rate and cost that surged in April, with many bills reflecting consumption that were double or triple their average monthly bills.

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The petition, spearheaded by Jhefferson Julian of Bangon Bagong Gapo Group and Gerardo Cruz of Batang ‘Gapo People’s Organization, also asked why the consumers were made to shoulder the system loss charges, value-added tax (VAT), and the subsidies that supposedly belong to the company’s corporate social responsibility.

It also questions the partnership between OEDC and San Miguel Energy Corp. (SMEC), which reportedly has a 35-percent share in the company.

“SMEC is the supplier of OEDC and whatever rate the SMEC imposes will be accepted by OEDC. Isn’t this a conflict of interest?” the petition said.

In a statement, OEDC said the account components reflected on the electricity bills include fees paid toward other companies that operate and maintain the electricity network, distribution charges, government revenues, taxes, and subsidies, as well as lifeline and senior citizen charges.

Norbie de Guzman, Consumer Welfare Desk Officer of OEDC, said since the entire Luzon was placed on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on March 17, some electric cooperatives and private distribution utilities, including OEDC, used averaged billing in line with an ERC advisory.

“In computing the average billing for March, we based on the kWh consumption and not on the bills,” he said

De Guzman said they referred to the total kWh consumption for December, January, and February for each household and divided this by three to get the March billing.

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“In relation to this averaging for March billing, we understand the possibility of over or under the billing of our customers, especially that most of the days covered under the March billing is covered by the ECQ period. Accordingly, if there is over or under billing, the corresponding difference/variance would be carried over to the April kWh consumption,” De Guzman said in a statement.

OEDC noted that the daily consumption in the second half of March and April is higher than the previous months because the whole billing month was under the ECQ period.

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TAGS: Change.org, Local news, Olongapo City, online petition, power bills, Regions
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