ERC: Meralco allowed to impose bill deposits

Posted at 10/24/2012 12:13 PM | Updated as of 10/24/2012 5:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) asserts Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) is allowed to impose bill deposits on its customers.

ERC executive director Francis Juan says the rule has been in place even before the Commission was formed. 

The Magna Carta for residential electricity cystomers providers a so-called bill deposit that will be the basis for adjustments, depending on the average consumption per month. 

Juan adds the regulation applies to all electric utilities, not just Meralco. A consumer group earlier complained the bill deposit was unreasonable.

"There is the regulation that the bill deposit that will be required of a consumer should match the consumption level of the consumer. That is the purpose of requiring the deposit, that is to secure the payment of the consumption bill. If deposit is way above the level of consumption, the utility must refund the excess. But if the deposit is no longer adequate to secure the consumption level or bills, the utility is allowed to adjust it on an annual basis," Juan told ANC's Headstart. 

Meanwhile, Meralco said majority of its customers will not be covered by the update of the bill deposits.

"This will not impact on all our customers. Only around 90,000 of our customers got the letter this October... The impression that is coming out is that it wil impact majority of customers, when in fact it will not," Jose Zaldarriaga, Meralco spokesperson, told ANC. 

Based on October estimates, around 1.25 million of its customers will receive a refund, while 1.25 million need to pay additional bill deposits. 

Zaldarriaga said only customers who have received 3 disconnection notices or whose service has been disconnected in the last 12 months prior to the October contract anniversary date will be affected by the bill deposit updates. 

"For customers who have been paid on or before the due date for 36 months straight, they will be entitled to full deposit of their bills," he said.

Meralco had earlier said it will defer the collection of bill deposits from its customers to January 2013. - With ANC