Think tank warns of power shortage, rate increases in the coming months

Marje Pelayo   •   November 27, 2019   •   311

MANILA, Philippines – Power rates are seen to shoot up in the coming months along with a series of power interruptions, according to the group Infrawatch PH.

It’s because the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has not approved all six new power supply agreements which Meralco is eyeing to source its supply from.

According to former congressman now Infrawatch PH Convenor Terry Riddon, ERC should have decided on the agreement as early as November 22.

But until now, the agreements have not yet been finalized even as Meralco’s power supply agreement (PSA) are set to expire on December 26.

This would likely result in power shortage and power rate increase in the coming months, according to Riddon.

“Natatakot po tayo na pagka nag-lapse po yung mga kontrata ng ilan pong tinatawag na PSAs ay kukuha po tayo ng kuryente sa spot market (It worries us that once the PSAs expire, we will need to source our electricity from the spot market),” he explained.

“Siyempre alam naman po natin kapag hindi contracted price may tendency na sumipa yung presyo ng kuryente (And as we all know, contracted price could result in power rate hikes),” he added.

But ERC denied stalling the new PSA as they received the applications only in October 22 this year.

Under the law, ERC has at least 75 days to issue a provisional authority on such type of agreements.

“Hindi ko alam kung saan nanggaling yung notion na nagkakaroon ng delay, (I don’t know from where that notion of a delay came from),” defended ERC Spokesperson Florinda Digal.

“Kapag file ng application sine-set namin for hearing, so may aksyon na kami. I think hindi lang naipaliwanag sa kanila na may proseso kasi bawat application na pina-file dito sa amin and gumagalaw yung application in accordance with the procedure,” she explained further.

(Once the application is filed, we set the hearing right away, so there’s action. I think, it was not explained to them properly that there is a process to follow and that the application is working in accordance with the procedure.)

The ERC maintained that it will not allow any delays in contracts that could result in shortage of power supply and high electricity prices that would inconvenience consumers.

“This is what we want to assure the public whenever we receive applications tinitignan din namin kung ano yung magiging epekto nito at syempre hindi kami papayag na magkaroon ng deficiency sa supply just because something is pending with us,” Digal said.

(This is what we want to assure the public whenever we receive applications. We look at their effects and of course, we do not allow deficiencies in the supply just because something is pending with us.)

Meanwhile, Meralco vows to cooperate with the government in order to minimize the impact on the consumers.

“We are committed to work with the government in ensuring that we obtain the least cost for consumers,” Meralco’s spokesperson Joe Zaldarriga assured. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Monthly installment notice, ipadadala ng bukod sa aktuwal na buwanang bill — Meralco

Marje Pelayo   •   May 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Magpapadala ang Meralco ng hiwalay na notice para sa monthly installment sa mga costumer nito upang makagaan sa mga bayarin sa gitna ng krisis ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Ito ay alinsunod sa direktiba ng Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) kung saan ang mga customer na may konsumong 200 kWh pababa simula Pebrero ay maaring hatiin ang bayad sa naipong konsumo mula March 1 hanggang May 31 sa loob ng anim na buwan.

Habang ang may konsumong 201 kWh pataas noong Pebrero ay hanggang apat na buwan lamang ang installment plan. 

Halimbawa, kung P5,400 ang naipong halaga para sa Marso hanggang Mayo, hahatiin ito sa anim na buwan. 

Ibig sabihin, mula Hunyo hanggang Nobyembre ay may dagdag na bayad tuwing a-kinse ng buwan na halagang P900. 

Paglilinaw ng Meralco, hindi kasama sa kuwenta ng installment plan ang regular na konsumo sa bawat buwan. 

Dahil sa pagkagulat na naidulot ng biglang pagtaas ng billing, nagpasya ang Meralco na magpadala ng sulat sa mga costumer upang maipaliwanag ang naging kompyutasyon ng kanilang konsumo mula Marso hanggang Mayo at kung bakit mayroong napadalhan ng overestimated o di kaya’y underestimated na billing para sa mga naturang buwan.

Ayon sa kumpanya, ibinase ang billing sa average consumption sa nakalipas na tatlong buwan mula nang suspendihin ang pagbabasa ng metro ng kuryente dahil sa pagpapatupad ng enhanced communtiy quarantine (ECQ).

Base sa naging Joint Committee Hearing ng Energy Commission noong nakaraang linggo, sinabi ng Meralco na itinuloy lamang nila ang pagbabasa ng metro noong April 11 para sa commercial at industrial companies habang April 27 naman sa residential customers.

Subalit halos wala pang isang porsyento sa mga residential clients ang nabasahan noong Abril, ayon sa Meralco. 

“May mga area ho na hindi pa namin napapasukan para mag meter read because strikto ang area or still under lockdown,” paliwanag ni Victor Genuino, ang vice president at head ng Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications ng Meralco. 

“We will strive for para basahan itong mga metro in June, and adjustments in the May bill will be reflected in the June bill,” dagdag nito.

Naglabas ng direktiba ang ERC na magpadala na lamang ng bukod na billing base sa aktuwal na konsumo. 

Nangako rin ang Meralco na ibabalik ang sobrang bayad o di kaya ay ike-credit na lamang sa mga susunod na bills ang naibayad nang halaga mula Marso hanggang Abril. 

“MERALCO would just like to say that we will fully comply with all the directives of the DOE and ERC regarding ECQ and MECQ on billings, payment extension and installment payments,” ani Genuino.

Upang maiwasan ang ganitong problema, tinitingnan na ng Meralco ang paggamit ng ‘smart meter reading’ na teknolohiya kung saan maaring malaman ang kunsome ng customer sa pamamagitan ng ‘remote reading.’ MNP (sa ulat ni Harlene Delgado)

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Meralco, pinagpapaliwanag ng ERC sa pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente sa gitna ng quarantine

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Iniimbestigahan na ng Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) ang Manila Electric Company (Meralco) hinggil sa isyu ng umano’y biglaang pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente sa gitna ng community quarantine.

Sa panayam sa UNTV Program na Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, sinabi ni ERC Commissioner Agnes Devanadera na pinadalhan na nila ng sulat ang Meralco dahil sa sari-saring reklamo sa umano’y kwestiyonable nitong mga singil sa kasalukuyang electricity bill.

Ayon kay Devanadera, dapat na maging patas at makatwiran ang Meralco sa paniningil nito sa consumers batay sa rules ng ERC.

Aniya, bahagi ng protocol nila ang pagpapadala ng advisory kapag may natanggap silang reklamo laban sa serbisyo ng Meralco at iba pang power firms.

Ngunit iginiit ng opisyal na imbestigasyon na ang kanilang isasagawa hinggil sa mga alegasyong maling komputasyon sa singil ng power distributor.

Sinabi rin ni Devanadera na kung talagang may kuwestyon sa billing ng Meralco ay huwag na lang munang magbayad ang mga consumer.

“If there is a mistake, defer (the payment)… Kaya naman sinabi ko investigation na ang ginagawa namin hindi na basta advisory lang,” sabi ng ERC commissioner.

Aniya, hindi naman mapuputulan ng serbisyo sa kuryente ang mga hindi makakapagbayad ng kanilang bill ngayon dahil suspindido ang disconnection sa gitna ng quarantine alinsunod sa Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Ginawa ni Devanadera ang pahayag bilang tugon sa panawagan ng grupong Samahan ng Matuwid na Singil sa Kuryente Consumer Alliance na suspindihin muna ang koleksyon ng Meralco habang isinasagawa ang imbestigasyon.

Ayon sa pinuno ng grupo na si Neri Colmenares, ito ay upang mabawasan ang nararanasang hirap ng mga consumer sa gitna ng quarantine.

Iminungkahi rin niya na i-condone muna ang isang buwang singil ng Meralco.

“Hindi dapat singilin muna ang mga bills na ito, kasi hirap ang tao ngayon dadagdagan mo pa ang problema nya. Tapos what if in the end pala overcharged yun? Ang hirap mag-refund sa Meralco ah hindi ganun kadali yun,” ani Colmenares.

Sa parehong panayam sa program, iminungkahi rin ni Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Bernadette Herrera-Dy na palawigin pa ng ilang buwan ang itinakdang grace period sa pagbabayad ng utility bills kahit matapos na ang community quarantine.

Paliwanag ni Herrera-Dy, ito ay upang mabigyan ng sapat na panahon ang mga consumer na makabawi at kumita muna ng pera na ipambabayad sa mga bayarin.

“Kasi hindi mo naman ineexpect na may pera kaagad ang tao pagbalik eh, syempre kailangan magtrabaho muna yan bago sya makaipon ng pampabayad sa Meralco,” ani ng mambabatas.

Tiniyak naman ni Devanadera na ramdam at dinig ng ERC ang hinaing ng publiko dahil maging siya, bilang isang power consumer, ay apektado rin sa isyu.

Sinabi rin ng opisyal na pag-aaralan nilang maigi ang mga suhestyon at reklamo sa gagawing imbestigasyon.

“Itong lahat ng ito masusi ang ginagawang pagsusuri ng ERC,” pagtitiyak niya.

Ayon kay Devanadera, sa Biyernes, Mayo 22 ang itinakda nilang deadline sa Meralco para magsumite ng mga dokumento bago pormal na simulan ang imbestigasyon. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

Poe asks Meralco to delay payment for ‘shocking’ bills until updated ones arrive

Robie de Guzman   •   May 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Monday urged the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to hold off payment for electricity bills until it addresses “confusing” and “unusually high” charges to consumers amid the community quarantine.

In a statement, Poe asked Meralco to address the concerns over the “shocking” electricity bills received by consumers this month.

“We ask Meralco to issue a final and correct billing based on accurate meter reading of the actual kilowatt-hour consumption,” she said.

“Until such accurately updated bill indicating exact staggered due is received by customers, it is proper that they hold off payment,” she added.

Meralco earlier explained that the significant increase reflected in power bills was due to the higher consumption and large number of people staying at home amid the quarantine to prevent novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection.

It also said that the March and April bills were based on the average daily consumption of consumers from December 2019, and January to February 2020.

“While we recognize the efforts of Meralco to explain, the confusing billings and unusually high charges have left many households in distress, especially those who lost their sources of income due to the lockdown,” Poe said.

Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public services, added that while correcting the electricity bills, Meralco should also assure continuous power service in households amid the public health crisis and hot season.

“As the company sorts out our billings, they should keep our lights on as uninterrupted power supply is crucial to run life-saving equipment in hospitals and to keep people connected,” she said.

Meralco earlier said it has suspended the disconnection of unpaid accounts falling due within the quarantine period. It added that some of its meter-reading activities have already resumed and that it remains accurate and transparent.

The power distributor also stressed that consumers may opt to pay their bills on a staggered scheme following guidelines issued by the government amid the quarantine.

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