Meralco to refund customers for bills paid in excess during quarantine
After being under fire for their increased billings, Meralco says it is reviewing all consumer complaints on billings during quarantine and will be making necessary adjustments including rebates
May 20, 2020
Following numerous complaints about the sudden spike in their billings, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has now assured its customers who have paid for excess electricity bills that they will be getting a refund for their extra payments.
According to Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Agnes Devanadera, Meralco assured their commission that it is reviewing all consumer complaints on the increase of electric bills during quarantine.
“Kung kayo ay nakapagbayad na—kasi merong mga tao na talagang nakapagbayad na—ang assurance sa atin ng Meralco at ’yun ang ating hiningi, ay kailangan i-rebate or i-refund,” Devanadera said in a radio interview.
Meralco said that since electric meter reading could not be done due to the ECQ in March and April, customers were billed based on their average consumption in the preceding months with cooler weather.
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) May 16, 2020
Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga has previously speculated that the hot weather could have contributed to the lengthened use of appliances and gadgets. Moreover, the bill for the month of May is already a result of “the actual kWh consumption from the current meter reading, with adjustments already reflected from the previous estimated consumption.”
Meralco has also given a four-month payment installment option for bills due from March 15 to May 1. Although, groups and concerned citizens have called for more transparency regarding the details on how there can be a surge of almost four times the previous bill. Thus, the company will be recomputing the bills for the past month and will be studying if any refunds should be made.
“Ang sabi nila (Meralco) on general terms, kung lahat ng nagbayad na doon sa bill na makikita nila na sa recomputation nila ay talagang sumobra, bibigyan ng rebate, ang sabi nga namin baka i-consider na ninyo ’yung refund,” said the ERC chairperson.
Devanadera also added that Meralco said it will disregard in its computation the Guaranteed Minimum Billing Demand (GMBD) or the minimum demand in kilowatts (kW) for business customers with a contracted capacity of five kW and above.
“Nagkausap na kami tungkol dyan at ang ang sinabi naman ng Meralco, they will disregard the minimum and instead go to the actual,” she said.
“At this point in time, you are prevented from opening your company, so how can you even have a minimum? So dinisregard na ’yan. Kung ano ang actual na makita nila dun ’yun na ang ibi-bill nila,” she added.
All of this is following ERC’s order for Meralco to explain how it billed its customers for electricity consumed during quarantine amid mounting consumer complaints.
Header photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
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