Meralco defers bill deposit collection to 2013

by Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2012 05:46 PM | Updated as of Oct 13 2012 07:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) will defer the collection of bill deposits from its customers to January 2013.

This comes after some customers complained of the additional payment of bill deposits. 

"We will hold disconnection of customers already given notice to pay additional deposit... We will issue another letter to affected customers that Meralco will offer a 12 month installment payment to begin in January 2013, and this will be those whose service anniversary month are October,  November and December," Ivanna de la Pena, Meralco first vice president, said. 

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Friday held a meeting regarding bill deposits with officials from Meralco, Department of Energy and various consumer groups.

ERC chairman Zenaida Ducut said the Commission asked Meralco to come up with a solution to address customer complaints about bill deposits.

"From our discussion, we'll get the solution from Meralco. We instructed Meralco to put in writing their proposal that instead of getting the bill deposit once, they can collect it for a year on a staggered basis," she said.

Ducut noted Meralco customers have no choice but to pay the bill deposit since it is provided for under the law.

Meralco distributes power to over 4 million customers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

In a presentation to the ERC, Meralco said only 90,000 of its customers received letters this October informing them of the need to pay additional bill deposit. The company said majority of its customers are not covered by the update of bill deposits.

Meralco clarified that only customers who have received at least 3 disconnection notices or whose electric service has actually been disconnected in the past 12 months prior to their contract anniversary date got these notification letters.

Customers who have diligently paid their bills did not receive letters.

"From the original period of 30 days to settle their deposit insufficiency, Meralco has manifested before the ERC that it will instead stagger the collection over a period of 12 months starting January 2013.  This collection period will also apply to customers who will receive notification letters in November and December," Meralco said.

The bill deposit is required from customers of all distribution utilities as a guarantee for payment of electric bills.