• Meralco to comply with CA refund order

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    POWER distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) on Thursday welcomed a decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) directing it to refund P5 billion to its overcharged customers.

    William Pamintuan, head of Meralco’s Legal Department, said the company will abide with the decision of the appellate court.

    “Meralco shall comply with any executable order from the court or the ERC [Energy Regulatory Commission] in this regard,” Pamintuan said in a text message.

    He added that the CA decision will provide some relief to Meralco’s consumers.

    “The decision of the CA affirming the ruling of the ERC on the refund of transmission line loss charges is a welcome relief to Meralco’s consumers,” Pamintuan said.

    But Larry Fernandez, head of Utility Economics for Meralco, said it will be the ERC that will decide and approve the mechanism of the refund.

    “It would be speculative at this point to discuss how the refund would proceed, as the manner and pace of any refund would still have to be approved by the ERC,” he added.

    In a 20-page decision issued last week, the CA ordered Meralco to comply with the directive of ERC to return to its customers by way of automatic deduction the P5 billion it will recover from the National Power Corp. (NPC) and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (Psalm).

    The CA’s Special Second Decision dismissed a petition for certiorari filed by Psalm assailing the order of the ERC.

    “In truth, it is the public that has been doubly charged,” the CA noted in its decision.

    Meralco has said that based on invoices issued by the NPC using a straight discount of 2.98 percent line loss factor, the computed double recovery on line loss amounted to P5.176 billion from November 2006 to August 2012.

    The power distributor said Meralco customers were charged double and expressed its intention to refund its customers through automatic deduction of the amount of refund from the computed monthly generation rate.

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