Meralco, VECO to allow meter deposit updates

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Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and Visayan Electric Co. (VECO) support the initiative of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s call to include the customer’s meter deposit and the interest it earns as an item on the monthly electricity bill.

Meralco Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga cited the guidelines issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) “on the annual updating of bill deposit which is reflected annually in our customers’ bills.”

In a text message late Monday, Zaldarriaga noted Meralco supports Cusi’s call for transparency in electricity bills and continue to comply with the ERC rules on returning the meter deposit of customers with terminated accounts.

The ERC resolution governing the refund of meter deposits was released on June 4, 2008 and took effect the following day.

Residential customers whose accounts have been terminated but paid a meter deposit in 1987 to July 2004 and non-residential customers who did the same from 1987 to April 2006 have until December this year to claim their refund.

It would entail additional work calculating and adding the deposit into the monthly bills, but VECO Chief Operating Officer Anton Mari Percides told reporters last week the company will comply with the DoE proposal.

Jointly owned and managed by AboitizPower Corp. and Vivant Corp., VECO is the second largest power utility in the country.

Cusi wanted all distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) to include a line on the billing statement indicating the amount of the deposit paid by the customer.

“Every month that get your bill, you should know that you have a deposit and how much interest you have earned,” the Energy chief noted.

“Who has the burden to prove that you have a deposit and the amount of deposit that you are entitled to? You made your deposit and yet when you have to get your refund, the burden of proof is yours,” he said.

In a letter to the ERC last month, Cusi wants to require ECs and DUs to include this item in the monthly electricity bills.

The meter deposit,which earns interest, applies to new and existing residential and non-residential customers, which was allowed by the ERC under the Magna Carta and Distribution Services and Open Access Rules.

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