Power distributors ordered to issue new electricity bills amid consumer complaints

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — The Energy Regulatory Commission has directed all power distributors to issue new electricity bills to reflect actual meter readings after numerous consumers complained of "bill shock."

In an advisory released Friday, the ERC said distribution utilities should "conduct actual meter readings and thereafter issue a new billing reflecting the actual consumption and the corresponding amount due."

The revised bills should be released not later than June 8, except when lockdown restrictions in certain areas would prohibit actual meter reading, the ERC said.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi in an online congressional meeting explained that when power distribution companies are unable to conduct meter reading, they can base the consumers' bills to the previous billing. This is the case as the government enforces lockdown measures across the country to prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease.

The Energy Department is looking into reports of sudden spike in billed amounts of the Manila Electric Company. Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga earlier explained that the electricity bill for May may be significantly steeper compared to those from the past months since the March and April bills were estimated based on the average daily consumption from December 2019, January 2020, and February 2020 — when customers typically consumed less electricity due to cooler weather.

Meanwhile, the consumers' bills in May are based on actual kilowatt per hour consumption, Meralco said, adding that this would really increase since most people are forced to stay home due to quarantine measures and use cooling devices due to the scorching heat.

READ: Meralco explains high electricity bills for May

ERC Chairperson Agnes Devanadera said they issued updated guidelines based on the imposition of modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and several provinces until end of May.

The ERC has also extended the installment period for households with monthly consumption of 200 kWh and below in February 2020. They are entitled to six equal monthly installments for electricity bills falling within the period of the ECQ and modified ECQ, or from March to May for Metro Manila.

The rest of the consumers are granted up to four monthly installments.

"The first monthly amortization (is) to be made not earlier than 15 June 2020, without penalties, interest and other fees," the ERC said, with subsequent bills to be paid every 15th of the month until fully settled.

The regulatory body also suspended the collection of environmental or universal charge which amounts to ₱0.0025/kWh.