Despite clarifications, Meralco still liable for billing violations during lockdown: Gatchalian

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2020 05:38 PM

Despite clarifications, Meralco still liable for billing violations during lockdown: Gatchalian 1
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian attends the Meralco Power Up Forum Series on Sustainability in Makati on September 20, 2019. Mark Cayabyab, Office of Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

MANILA - The Manila Electric Co will still be liable for several billing violations despite heeding calls to clarify and correct power charges during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdown, Senate Committee on Energy chair Sherwin Gatchalian said Thursday.

Aside from issuing confusing electricity bills, Meralco also violated the Energy Regulatory Commission's (ERC) order not to charge the feed-in tariff allowance (FIT-All) and universal charge-environmental charge (UC-EC) in March and in April when Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Gatchalian told reporters in an online press conference.
 
"I would advise ERC na tuloy pa rin [ang investigation on Meralco's violations] kasi importante sa utilities na 'pag may direktiba, sinusundan," Gatchalian said.

"Hindi porke't may hearing at inayos nila [ang billing], absuwelto na sila," he said.

Earlier this month, Meralco President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Espinosa apologized to the public for receiving electricity bills that were triple or quadruple their normal monthly consumption.

Meralco has explained that power consumption in each household had to be based on estimates as their personnel were barred from conducting actual meter readings during the ECQ in Luzon.

The power distribution company also waived the P47 online payment fee for consumers in areas that are still under general community quarantine to encourage the public to stay indoors and just pay their bills online.

Meralco also said consumers who paid their March, April and May power bills in full may get a refund should they wish to divide their payment in several installments.