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No ‘bills shock’, Meralco assures

Maria Romero



Power “bill shock”, which previously irked millions of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) energy consumers, is unlikely to happen this time as meter-reading activities remain uninterrupted despite the prolonged virus lockdown in the Greater Manila bubble.

Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga on Thursday assured company representatives will continue reading meters in households within its franchise areas.

“The bill shock happened last year because there were three to four months of cumulative consumption which we weren’t able to read,” Zaldarriaga told reporters in a virtual press conference on Thursday.

“This year, our meter-reading activities are continuous. As to the bill shock comparative to last year, it will no longer happen,” he added.

Last year, Meralco received a backlash over allegedly high power rates during the quarantine period, which prompted the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and lawmakers to conduct separate probes.

During Congressional investigations, Meralco apologized for the bill shock and assured lawmakers that customers were only charged for the actual electricity they consumed.


Slight rise in bills set

This April, Meralco customers should brace for a slight rise in their power bill as spot market prices increased due to tight supply in the Luzon grid amid summer heat.

Meralco noted that the month’s rate also includes adjustments for pass-through over/under-recoveries from January 2017 to December 2019.

The overall rate for a typical household inched up by P0.0872 per kWh, from last month’s P8.3195 to P8.4067 per kWh.

Residential customers consuming 200 kWh should expect to pay an additional P17 in their power bill.

However, Zaldarriaga explained that the slight rise in the bill should not be considered as “bill shock” since the nature of the increase is consumption-driven amid the usual higher demand during warmer dry season weather.

To help customers cope with the extended quarantine, Meralco also suspended disconnection activities in its franchise area until 15 April.