MANILA, Philippines — Customers of the Manila Electric Co. are due for a monthly refund of around 75 centavos per kilowatt hour per month, hopefully starting next month, the Energy Regulatory Commission said.
A press release from the agency said: “Consumers will save approximately P0.7541/KWH per month on their electricity bills until July 2017after the ERC directed Meralco to immediately refund P6.9 billion in overcharges collected over the past three years.”
Interestingly, the press release, which quoted suspended ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar as saying the refund, to cover the utility’s “over-recovery” from January 2014 to December 2016, “should be reflected in the May 2017 billing so Meralco customers will feel its effects right away,” has been taken down from the agency’s website.
All that is left is a screenshot taken by party-list Bayan Muna.
Commissioner Josefina Asirit said they are “trying to get to the bottom of it because the Commission did not authorize anyone to issue a press release or upload anything on the website.”
Nevertheless, she confirmed the pending refund but said the commissioners hope to meet and “come out with the formal order by next week” so the refund can be “carried over to the June billing cycle.”
Meralco, on the other hand, insisted there had been no overcharging, describing the P6.9 billion as a “technical correction” filed by the firm itself to reflect adjustments on actual revenues over the past three years.”
What this means is that Meralco’s rates are determined by customers’ usage patterns in the previous month, which are sometimes different from actual demand, the reason the utility files the correction every three years for the ERC’s review.
Nonetheless, Meralco utility economics head Larry Fernandez assured they would abide by the ERC’s order once it is released.
On the other hand, Bayan Muna urged the ERC not to further delay implementation of the refund.
“The approved (refund) order was already posted on (ERC’s) website last week and there is no reason to delay its implementation. Otherwise, ERC will again be in a cloud of suspicion that it is being influenced to rescind or amend its order to (implement) the supposed refund,” Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said.