Meralco to refund payments for 'deferred' rate hike
MANILA, Philippines – Manila Electric Company (Meralco) said it would refund customers who paid the amount representing the "deferred amount" reflected in their February bills.
Ivanna dela Pena, Meralco’s first vice president and head of the regulatory management office, said in a letter to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) that the company recognized the feedback it got "concerning the issues on the Deferred Amount and Total Amount Due for payment.”
Dela Pena continued, "Thus, in the coming March 2014 billing, the Deferred Amount will no longer be included in the Total Amount Due and an advisory on the bill will be made to further clarify and inform customers on what amounts to pay upon receipt of their electricity bills.”
"Furthermore, for customers who had earlier opted to pay an amount representing the 'deferred amount,' Meralco will implement a refund equivalent to said amount as credit to bill starting March 2014," dela Pena noted.
The ERC called Meralco’s attention to the issues as well, as Meralco’s new billing format has confused some users regarding how much they needed to pay.
The ERC explained that "Meralco's move to reflect therein under heading 'Total Amount Due' the supposed 'balance from previous billing,' which is a subject of the pending SC petitions questioning the same has caused a lot of confusion among the affected customers as to which amount they should actually pay.”
Dela Pena explained that the inclusion of an amount "Deferred, pending resolution of the SC TRO” was meant to provide transparency and for record-keeping purposes. Meralco did not intend to confuse its customers or mislead them into paying.
Meralco's current billing issues with the ERC stemmed from its P4.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate hike in the December billing of customers.
The hike was suspended the same month after a temporary restraining order was issued by the Supreme Court amid complaints from consumer groups. Meralco asked that the TRO be lifted, but the SC extended it until April.
Dela Pena added, “Our billing system automatically computes all amounts billed by Meralco, both Current Charges Due and the amounts from previous billings, which remain unpaid.”
"Since some customers were billed prior to the SC TRO but may have paid only an amount equivalent to their November 2013 bills (where generation charge was at P5.6673 per kWh) after the SC TRO, the Deferred Amount will automatically be reflected as part of the Total Amount Due,” Dela Pena said. – Rappler.com