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SC asked to stop additional Meralco charge for renewable energy

/ 07:33 PM January 06, 2015

MANILA, Philippines–A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court to stop the additional 4-centavo per kilowatt hour fee in electricity bills beginning this month to shoulder the cost of renewable energy (RE) used under the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) scheme.

In a 32-page petition, lawyer Remigio Ancheta II, who filed the petition as a taxpayer said the increase is “unreasonable and oppressive” because the public is being made to pay  for electricity that has yet to be generated and power plants that have yet to be constructed.

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“Unless this honorable court strikes down this unreasonable and oppressive attempt to collect from the public an amount that they can otherwise use for basic necessities, the consumers will be required to bear the burden by the start of year 2015,” Ancheta said in his petition.

FIT is a “renewable energy policy that offers guaranteed payments on a fixed rate per kilowatt hour for emerging renewable energy sources.”

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It will be reflected as a separate line item on the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) billing. The fund to be collected aims to support the development of renewable energy sources–wind, solar, ocean, run-of-river hydropower and biomass–in the country which will gradually help cut down the use of fossil fuel and other pollutive energy sources.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) provisionally approved the additional 4-centavo charge on Oct. 7, 2014.

Ancheta said the ERC committed grave abuse of discretion in approving the application because it is going beyond the provisions of Republic Act No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

He added that the ERC also committed an “invalid exercise” of police power and depriving electricity consumers of due process of law when it came up with FIT Rules and Guidelines that provide for the advance collection of payments.

Section 2.5 of the FIT Rules states that electricity consumers shall “share in the cost of the FITs in part through a uniform charge to be referred to as FIT-All and applied to all billed [kilowatt hours].”
“In reality, the FIT Rules and Guidelines authorize the advance collection of the FIT based on a forecast generation of electricity. Put simply, the consumers will be charged the amount of electricity from renewable energy sources well ahead of their actual use thereof or worse, before the energy is actually produced. This is contrary to the current manner of billing electricity, where consumers are billed on the basis of their actual consumption,” the petition read.
“Such collection prior to the actual production of electricity goes beyond the terms of the RE Law and therefore null and void,” it added.
Aside from the ERC, also named respondents are Transco, Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Board, and Meralco.
Meralco is part of the case since it will collect the additional charge from electricity consumers.
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TAGS: Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), FIT, MERALCO, Renewable Energy Act, Supreme Court
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