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Meralco to enforce TRO on rate hike but hints at adverse effects

/ 08:42 PM December 23, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is abiding by the Supreme Court temporary restraining order on the electricity rate hikes, but asked regulators to also consider how this would affect the whole energy supply chain.

Meralco officials declined to make specific comments as it has not received a copy of the ruling but said the company would follow the high court directives and study how to implement it.

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“We will have to follow whatever the Supreme Court says,” Meralco COO Oscar S. Reyes said. Hopefully, Reyes said, issues would be resolved before the next billing cycle.

The Supreme Court has issued an order stopping Meralco from collecting the record P4.15/kwh rate increase.

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“We will look into how to operationalize it (SC order),” said company SVP for customer retail services Alfredo S. Panlilio. “We need to see whatever the order is and how do we effect the order.”

About 70 percent or 3.5 million customers of the distribution utility’s 5.3 million customers have received and paid for billing that reflected higher generation charges this month. The rest have either not paid or have not been billed.

“We have three groups: those who have been billed and have paid; those who have been billed and have not paid; and those who have not been billed,” he said, citing the billing cycle of Meralco.

Reyes said customers who have paid for the higher bill would get refunds. “We can easily refund,” Reyes said.

Meanwhile, Meralco is also asking regulators to let it defer payments to the spot market operator Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) as it tries to cope with P9 billion in dues to power generators (both via contracts and the spot market).

In a letter to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which recently ordered Meralco to cap the pass-through power generation rate increases, Meralco said ERC should in turn help Meralco manage its costs by directing PEMC to defer its collections from Meralco.

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TAGS: Alfredo S. Panlilio, Electricity, Energy Regulatory Commission, ERC, Judiciary, Manila Electric Company, Oscar S. Reyes, PEMC, Philippine Electricity Market Corporation, power rate hike, Supreme Court
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