Meralco announces refund scheme for consumers

By Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 26 2013 04:50 PM | Updated as of Dec 27 2013 05:41 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) – Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) assured its customers Thursday that it will comply with the Supreme Court (SC) order to stop the implementation of the initial power rate hike for December and refund those who were already billed and paid based on the new rates.

From P5.67 per kilowatt hour (kWh), Meralco increased generation charges by P2 for December to reflect the initial tranche of the P4.15 total rate hike.

Those who received their electricity bills from December 23 onwards may pay their bills without any problem.

Meralco said it made adjustments immediately after the SC issued the temporary restraining order (TRO) on Monday, and reverted the generation charge to P5.67.

Those who were billed before December 23, however, may have a different situation since their bill still reflects the increase.

Meralco will send a notice to those who have yet to pay and provide them with options.

One option is to simply settle the bill and avail of a refund in future bills.

Another option is to pay the same amount as the November billing provided that consumption in November and December are the same.

Those who got their bills before December 23 and have already paid will be given refunds, but only after the Supreme Court has made a final decision on the case.

Meralco said 70 percent of its more than 5 million customers got their bills before the Supreme Court issued the TRO.

“The adjustments will be made in accordance with the final SC decision,” said Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga.

Some customers who settled their bills early now feel that they're on the losing end.

"Sana kung magre-refund sila, sana ay ASAP naman para makatulong, lalo na ngayon maraming hinaharap na gastusan," said one customer.

The group Bayan, meanwhile, said the Supreme Court should speed up the resolution of the petitions against the power rate hike.

Bayan added that the additional charges Meralco already collected should be closely monitored.

"Magkano na ang nakolekta nila bago lumabas 'yung TRO at 'yung amount na 'yun ay itabi muna dahil kung may kautusan na ng refund, madali nilang maibabalik 'yan sa consumers,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes.

But Meralco defended itself, saying the additional charges were intended as payment for power suppliers.

This January, the Supreme Court will hold arguments on the controversial rate hike.

The Department of Energy and Energy Regulatory Commission also continue their probe into an alleged collusion among power suppliers.