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ERC prompts consumers on long-overdue bills

Vernon Velasco

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The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is encouraging able consumers to settle their long-overdue electric bills, lest the supply chain will collapse.

This, after ERC chair and CEO Atty. Agnes VST Devanadera said that the ERC is now leaving the disconnection policy to the discretion of distribution utilities.

“We always study what can be done because we are all in the same situation. And, since (the economy) is now opening, many have returned to work. If our citizens expect the ERC to order a ‘No Disconnection’ policy, it’s up to the distribution utilities because the situation is different,” Devanadera said.

“The distribution utilities and the electric cooperatives also need to sustain their power supply. We also need to help them, if we can afford to pay. And, often, we can,” she added.

The country’s largest distribution utility Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has extended its “No Disconnection” policy until end-January 2021, where Devanadera confirms that the ERC did not order it.

Recently, Senator Rita Hontiveros has asked Meralco, in a Senate hearing, if it can consider extending its payment terms to help consumers amid the pandemic.

Currently, Meralco is guided by the ERC’s October 2020 advisory, while it even extended the disconnection moratorium for consumers using 200-kilowatt hour or less.

While Meralco is now studying the suggestion, it noted that out of the total bill, the actual distribution portion is the only part that goes to it and the rest are passed through charges, which it has settled in full and on time.

Meralco has been shouldering this cost for over 10 months since the onset of Covid-19 in 2020.

“With us, we see that even electric cooperatives are really finding ways [to alleviate the plight of Filipinos to the best of their ability,” Devanadera said.

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