MANILA - The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Saturday said it has ordered other power distributors to explain violations of regulatory advisories released for bills covering the COVID-19 quarantine period.
This followed its imposition of a P19-million fine on Meralco for failure to explain bill estimates during the strict lockdown, a period that saw soaring electricity bills, prompting complaints from subscribers.
“Maraming nagsumbong. Nag-review kami ng mga reports at nakita naming maraming lumabag,” ERC Chair Agnes Devanadera said in a virtual briefing on state TV.
(There were many complaints. We reviewed the reports and found out that many committed violations.)
Devanadera said some power distributors failed to heed the ERC advisory on the suspension of universal charges such as the environmental charge.
“Pero naningil pa rin sila. 'Yun, mga paglabag 'yun. Sinulatan itong mga ito at pinagpapaliwanag natin. Hindi ko masasabi kung magkano ang ating magiging multa dahil naghihintay pa tayo ng kasagutan sa order ng ERC na sila ay magpaliwanag bakit sa aming initial evaluation ay may paglabag na sila sa ating advisories,” she said.
(But they still collected. That is a violation. We sent them a letter ordering them to explain. We can’t say how much we will fine them because we are still waiting for their explanations to the ERC order on why they violated our advisories.)
On Thursday, ERC imposed a P19-million fine on Meralco for its failure to indicate that bills after the strict lockdown were estimated and for failing to comply with the mandated installment payment arrangement.
“'Yun ay hindi nagawa ng Meralco at iba pang distribution utilities. At ito ang mga bagay sa pananaw ng ERC bilang regulator ay dapat magkaroon ng kaparusahan,” she said.
(Meralco and other distribution utilities failed to comply. And these are the things, in our view as regulator, should be penalized.)
The ERC said the penalty of P100,000 was multiplied by the number of infractions committed, resulting in P19 million total dues for Meralco.
“Ang aming batayan sa computation hanggang kailan ba hindi nakorek ng Meralco itong pagkakamali. Batay na rin sa sulat ng Meralco, mga July 9 na nila na correct nung sumulat sila individually at pinartikular individually alin ang bayaran mo, alin pa ang babayaran mo at magkano ang installment,” she said.
(Our basis for computation was until when did Meralco fail to correct its mistake. Based on their letter it was until July 9 when they made the correction, when they wrote to consumers individually about the amount that they should pay and how much the installment would be.)
Devanadera, meanwhile, urged consumers to play their part by paying their dues.