SWAMPED with complaints, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Monday ordered Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to explain its calculation for its past customers’ monthly billings from March to May.
“We have been bombarded with complaints on Meralco’s alleged high billings covering the past three months, including this May, and we need to look into these consumers’ allegations that we required Meralco to submit to us data or information for us to validate the accuracy of their billing calculations,” ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Agnes VST Devanadera said in a statement.
In a letter dated May 15, the commission asked the country’s biggest distribution utility about the basis of its determination of the kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption of its customers during the period of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from March to May.
The ERC is also seeking the listed utility’s power bills from suppliers, which were reflected in its computation of generation rate, as well as its invoices from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for the computation of its transmission rate and its uniform reportorial requirement for the billing periods.
In a statement last week, Meralco addressed customers’ bill shock, saying that the May bill is the result of the actual electricity consumption in kWh from the current meter reading, plus the estimated consumption reflected in the deferred April and March bills.
“This total, which is already based on the true and actual readings, is what customers actually see in the May bill. That is why you may notice a rise in the total amount due,” it said.
According to Meralco Spokesperson Joe R. Zaldarriaga, some March and all April bills were estimated based on the average daily consumption of customers from the past three months, following the distribution services and open access rules (DSOAR) issued by the ERC.
The apparent spike in electricity rates was due to various factors, the utility said. These include the uptick in power consumption during the ECQ and the high May temperature, which led to higher use of cooling appliances at home.
Meralco rates for this month is set to go down with a typical household consuming 200 kWh to likely see a P50 cut in its monthly bill. This is due to a reduction in its overall electricity rates by P0.2483 per kWh to P8.7468/kWh from April’s P8.9951/kWh.
Its generation charge for this month went down by P0.2537/kWh to P4.3848/kWh from last month’s P4.6385/kWh, while its transmission cost slightly went up by P0.0175/kWh as ancillary charges were increased, along with taxes and other charges posted a net decrease of P0.0121/kWh.
The ERC has yet to determine whether or not Meralco complied with the DSOAR and its advisories on the implementation of pass-thru charges, which were ordered deferred.
Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Adam J. Ang