37,000 Meralco customers paid higher amount in Feb bill

by Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 05 2014 04:25 PM | Updated as of Mar 06 2014 12:25 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said it will give a refund to 37,000 consumers who had earlier paid the "total amount due" in their February electricity bill.

Meralco has corrected the bill, which had included part of the spike in the December generation charge which deferred since it was the subject of a TRO issued by the Supreme Court.

Of their 5.3 million customers, Meralco said only 420,000 received the said electricity bill. Of the 420,000, around 37,000 paid the "total amount due', which had included the "spike" in generation charge. The rest paid only the current amount due.

Meralco said it collected an equivalent amount of P58 million from 37,000 customers who will get it back through a reduction in their bill this March.

Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga also said that from March, the electricity bills will no longer include the "SC-deferred, TRO-ed gen charge."

"Wala hong intention na kolektahin," he said.

But militant groups want Meralco cited for contempt.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said Meralco should double the refund to pay for the damage or inconvenience it caused those who paid the total amount due.

But Meralco countered that the gencharge is not a Meralco charge but goes directly to the generators.

Meanwhile, Meralco said its customers can expect lower generation charge for march.

Zaldarriaga said the gencharge will be lower than February's gencharge of P5.54 per kilowatt hour but the utility refused to divulge the exact amount.

Meralco public information officer Lalaine Tiangco meanwhile reminds consumers to save on electricity consumption during the summer season. She said they can save power by unplugging unused appliances and using a timer on appliances that consume a lot of electricity.