Meralco to refund P58M to 37,000 customers

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The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said on Monday it would refund about P58 millioin to its customers who paid the “deferred amount” reflected in their electricity bills for February.

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Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco spokesperson, said in a phone interview with The Manila Times that the refund would be distributed among 37,000 Meralco customers who have paid the “deferred amount” for the month of February.

“Let’s say the customer had a P4,000 [electricity]bill in November and a P5,000 bill in December, and the Supreme Court implemented the temporary restraining order [TRO] to halt the December increase, which resulted in customers only paying P4,000 in December instead of P5,000. They paid P4,000, and now the P1,000 was recorded as their ‘balance’,” Zaldarriaga said.

“The balance was now automatically charged by the system as a deferred amount that burdened customers in their February bills,” he explained, adding that steps are being undertaken to correct the error in the billing and remove the deferred amounts in the March bills.

About 37,000 out of the 434,000 customers that were issued bills with the deferred amount paid the additional amount. Meralco has 5.5 million customers.

On December 23, 2013, the high tribunal issued a 60-day TRO against a proposed rate hike by Meralco. The TRO was extended by another 60 days last month.

Ivanna dela Peña, first vice president of Meralco and head of its Regulatory Management Office, said earlier in a letter to the Energy Regulatory Commission that the company recognizes the various complaints that arose from the charging of the deferred amount in their billing to customers.

He said that the deferred amount would be removed from the total amount due in their customers’ March billings. Advisories starting from the March billing would also be included to inform consumers on what amounts to pay to avoid confusion.

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