Meralco offers to defer collection of bill depositsBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, has offered to defer the collection of additional bill deposits to January 2013 instead of this month to ease the impact of these charges on its affected customers.
The distribution utility said it was also willing to stagger or spread the collection of the bill deposits over a 12-month period instead of its original plan to give its customers only 30 days to settle their deposit insufficiency.
These developments were an offshoot of a meeting between the Energy Regulatory Commission and Meralco on Friday to look for other options that will ease the payment terms for the additional bill deposits.
The bill deposit is a standard fee paid for when applying for electricity connection with any distribution utility like Meralco. The amount may be adjusted later on depending on the customer’s actual monthly electricity bills. It may also be redeemed should the customer choose to terminate the services of Meralco.
According to Energy Regulatory Commission executive director Francis Saturnino Juan, the ERC chair has already directed Meralco to formalize its proposals for verification and confirmation by the commission that such moves are consistent with the relevant provisions of the Magna Carta for Electricity Consumers.
Some Meralco customers received this month a notice in their electricity bills to pay an additional amount to cover the adjustments in their bill deposits, which will serve as “security” for unpaid electricity bills.
This is the first time that Meralco adjusted the bill deposits–which should be equivalent to one month worth of a customer’s electricity consumption.
Each customer whose kilowatt-hour consumption had risen by at least 10 percent or more from the time it first started using the services of Meralco will thus have to pay an additional amount for the bill deposit.
Liza Rose Diangson, vice president for customer process of Meralco, said on Thursday that roughly 25 percent or 1.25 million of Manila Electric Co.’s over 5 million customers were expected to pay additional bill deposits while another 25 percent were expected to get refunds. The remaining customers will not be affected, Diangson said.
But in a statement issued yesterday, Meralco clarified that only 90,000 of its customers got letters this October notifying them of their need to pay additional bill deposits.
Meralco explained that only customers who have received at least three disconnection notices or whose electric service have actually been disconnected the past 12 months prior to their contract anniversary date had received these notification letters.
Customers who have been diligent in paying their electricity bills on or before due date, meanwhile, did not receive the letters.