Meralco, power co-ops asked: Halt electric bill collection | Inquirer News

Meralco, power co-ops asked: Halt electric bill collection

/ 05:36 AM June 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Party-list group Bayan Muna on Tuesday called on Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and electric cooperatives to defer collection of customers’ electric bills amid a deluge of complaints about “extremely high” electricity charges during the coronavirus lockdown.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Chair Neri Colmenares said power distributors should not force their customers to pay their bills pending investigation of the complaints by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

“Any increase will only burden the consumers more considering that due to the lockdown, consumers are hard-put to buy food let alone pay bills,” Colmenares said.


‘Bill shock’

The Bayan Muna appeal came amid reports of “bill shock” among electricity users, especially those in Metro Manila, Meralco’s franchise area.


Colmenares expressed concern that the “high” power bills will further increase as power supply for Luzon dipped to “yellow alert” again last week

In the power industry, yellow alert means the electricity grid’s reserve—the difference between supply and demand—is below the required level. Last week’s yellow alert was purportedly caused by outages at the power plants.

Colmenares questioned why there was a yellow alert when the power plants were not running to full capacity because demand was low during the last three months when Metro Manila and many parts of the country were on lockdown.

Impoverished customers

He also asked the ERC to investigate whether Meralco’s lumping the bills for the last three months would disqualify “lifeliners”—impoverished customers who are charged a lower rate if their monthly consumption is less than 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Colmenares said customers who regularly used less than 100 kWh a month should have been charged lower than if Meralco lumped all customers together and charged them for a uniform consumption of 300 kWh.

“That is why many are still complaining of the high electricity rates despite the meter reading. We demand that Meralco [halt collection of the bills] pending this investigation [by] the ERC, including the justification for the yellow alert,” he said. —MELVIN GASCON

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TAGS: Bayan Muna, coronavirus Philippines

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