• ERC affirms decision on P6.9-B Meralco refund


    The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) reconfirmed its decision on Monday for Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to return P6.9 billion to consumers.

    “Same as the previous order. We just confirmed it,” ERC Commissioner and Officer-in-Charge Alfredo J. Non, said in a text message.

    The approved ERC decision said that Meralco must refund an average of P0.75 per kilowatt in a three tranches by deducting this starting with the June to August bills.

    The earlier directive was posted on the ERC website last May 4 but was later taken down causing confusion because it quoted ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar after his suspension order from Malacanang, thus stalling the release of the order.

    Last week, ERC Commissioner Josefina MagpaIe-Asirit confirmed the existence of the directive but it was still unauthorized at that time because the ERC commission en banc had not yet met to finalize the order.

    A statement earlier uploaded on the ERC’s website said that on March 31, Meralco asked the ERC to refund around P6.9 billion representing over recoveries for generation and transmission charges covering the period January 2014 to December 2016.

    Meralco wanted to refund generation charges amounting P4.9 billion for a period of 36 months at a rate of P0.0502 per kWh, transmission charges of P632.2 million for 36 months at P0.0051 per kWh, system loss rates of P1.242 billion for 36 months at P0.0099 per kWh and senior citizen discount and subsidiary at P2.32 million for one month at a rate of P0.0011 per kWh.

    The utility giant asked that the figure be reduced to P5.847 billion, saying it is entitled to retain P1.08 billion in real property tax payments from the over-recoveries. Meralco also wants the refund to be done over a period of 36 months at a rate of P0.0087 per kWh. “These over/under recoveries shall be made to both captive and contestable customers,” it said.

    But ERC disallowed this and instead ordered the company to pay P6.927 billion over three months.

    ERC allows distribution utilities to file consolidated applications every three years for the confirmation of pass-through charges.

    Also in an interview last week, Meralco head for utility economics Lawrence Fernandez said that once the ERC issues the order, the power distributor could implement the refund as early as June. “We can implement it but we are still waiting for the order,” he said.


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