ERC still studying Meralco petition for P9B refund

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2012 11:23 AM | Updated as of Sep 06 2012 04:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is still studying the petition filed by power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) for P9.1 billion in refunds for alleged double charges of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM). 

The ERC confirmed that the double charge exists but it has to receive PSALM's own computation before it can issue a final order with the amount to be refunded to Meralco customers. 

"The Commission did issue its decision finding a double recovery. The main reason for this overrecovery is that they were not able to implement the particular provision given absence of particular data that would enable them to compare the amount of system loss embedded in TOU and that which is being charged by the market," Wilbert Balilia, ERC investigation & enforcement division chief, told ANC's Karen Davila on Headstart. 

Meralco recently filed the petition asking PSALM to return P9.1 billion it had "overcharged" Meralco customers. Meralco said the amount involves "line loss components" of line rentals which PSALM included in its transition supply contract with Meralco.

The ERC has asked PSALM to comment on Meralco's petition. 

"Right now Meralco filed its amount, its assessment as to how much was the overrecovery was and then PSALM has already been directed to comment on this number. Once a specific amount has been established by the Commission, given the inputs of PSALM, PEMC (Philippine Electricity Market Corporation) and Meralco, then it will come out with order finalizing actual amount to be refunded by PSALM, NPC," Balilia said. 

Once the final amount is settled, Meralco customers can receive refunds, either in cash or through reduction in future billings. However, the exact amount has yet to be determined. 

"Customers will benefit from that because this is generation cost and this cost is passed through. Meralco is not allowed to enjoy cost or incur margins on this particular item," he asid. 

Meanwhile, PSALM said the claims of P9.1 billion worth of transmission line costs it had allegedly overcharged Meralco customers were "unfounded."

PSALM president and CEO Emmanuel R. Ledesma, Jr. said "the alleged double charging arose out of the simultaneous implementation of the NPC-Meralco TSC and the price determination methodology (PDM) in WESM, both of which are ERC approved. PSALM continues to be bound by the TSC and the PDM as both remain valid until today. PSALM cannot deviate from either until an effective segregation mechanism from PEMC is approved by the ERC."  

"The P9.1 billion that PSALM allegedly overcharged Meralco's customers cited in a news report is unfounded and, at best, premature considering that the final amount is yet to be determined after the ERC approves the implementation of a refund/collection scheme upon compliance of the parties with the directives of the regulatory body," Ledesma said. 

PSALM is currently reviewing the documents submitted by Meralco to ensure the accuracy of its refund to consumers. - With ANC