Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest power distributor, is set to give starting this month over a billion pesos to its customers representing interest payments on their electricity bill deposits.
In a statement, Meralco said the interest payments would cover roughly 1.5 million of its over 5 million customers, who will be notified via letters or through their electricity bills.
According to the utility firm, customers whose contract anniversary falls anywhere between January and September were supposed to receive their interest next year but Meralco decided to advance it in time for the holidays.
Customers whose contract anniversary falls in the months of November and December will also receive their interest this month including their excess bill deposits, as planned.
Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said these interest payments would be credited to a consumer’s monthly bill.
The bill deposit is a standard fee paid for when applying for a connection with any distribution utility like Meralco. The amount deposited may be adjusted later on depending on the customer’s actual monthly bills. It may also be redeemed should the customer choose to terminate the services of Meralco. This bill deposit is also interest bearing, as provided under the Magna Carta for Electricity Consumers and the Distribution Service and Open Access Rules (DSOAR).
The National Association of Electricity Consumers earlier alleged that the unpaid interest from the bill deposits have already amounted to P20 billion.
It was only in October that the bill deposit issue was raised after some Meralco customers received a notice in their electricity bills to pay an additional amount to cover the adjustments in their bill deposits, which would serve as “security” for unpaid electricity bills.
This was the first time that Meralco had adjusted the bill deposits—which should be equivalent to one month worth of a customer’s electricity consumption.
Customers whose kilowatt-hour consumption had risen by at least 10 percent or more from the time they started using the services of Meralco would thus have to pay an additional amount for the bill deposit.