Meralco admits failure to reflect ‘overestimation,’ ‘underestimation’ of power use in March, April billings
MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) admitted on Monday that it failed to indicate that it had included their customers’ estimated March and April power consumption in their May billing, which senators claimed had caused confusion among the company’s consumers.
During the Senate energy committee hearing into the “bill shock” being experienced by customers amid the pandemic, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian presented his personal May electric bill, which reached over P23,000.
Meralco’s First Vice President and Head of Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications Victor Genuino explained that Gatchalian’s May bill reflects his estimated consumption for March and April as well as his actual meter reading for May.
Meralco said it has billed customers based on average consumption from December to February because meter reading could not be done in March and April with the entire Luzon placed under an enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But Gatchalian said there was a lack of clear explanation on the computation of the current billing period and if there are adjustments carried over from the March and April 2020 billing period.
“Nowhere in the bill said that you added the estimate kasi it’s very clear na wala ‘yan sa bill,” the senator said.
“So where will I find out that there is an overestimation, kung in-add niyo yung overestimation?” he added.
In response, Genuino reiterated that Gatchalian’s May bill “already reflects all the estimates taking into account all your March and April consumption.”
“So ‘yung May, as long as it’s based on actual meter reading will be reflective already of all your March and April consumptions,” he added.
But the senator stressed that it was not indicated in the bill whether or not the March and April consumption included in the May bill were estimated or were already the actual consumption.
“It’s very clear, estimate, wala naman nakalagay na estimated. Kaya ko binayaran ko kasi baka maputulan…My point of the matter is madaming ganitong cases na overestimation. Maraming ganitong cases, and without clear explanation that you embedded the estimates for March and April. People will think that this is the actual reading,” Gatchalian said.
The Meralco official then said: “You are correct Sir, in a sense that we weren’t able to reflect where all of these additions to the estimated bills were in your previous consumption.”
According to Meralco chief executive officer and president Ray Espinosa, the company will send personalized letters to its consumers to clarify the “problematic” May billing.
“The May is the real problematic billing, I would say, I mean it has been demonstrated by the chair (Gatchalian) in his particular case with respect to his own Meralco bill that has really created the confusion. That is something that I want to be able to correct by issuing this more personalized letter to each customer to explain to them precisely how the consumption has been calculated, what their actual consumption was for the periods in question,” he said during the hearing.
Earlier, Meralco said it will be extending its period of no power disconnection until Sept. 30 of this year as consumers continue to complain about unexplained high electricity rates.
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