MORE Electric and Power Corp. said over the weekend its consumers in Iloilo City started to receive their bill deposit refunds.
MORE Power president and chief executive Roel Castro said the company was looking at a bill deposit refund of about P5 million this year.
Castro said the company wanted to set an example for the rest of the distribution utilities.
“This is very consistent with our customer focus activities. In fact. I was asking some DUs, why are you not returning? They said, well, the customers are not asking for it. Again, that is where I can draw the line between the DU that is customer-focused. Because even if the customer does not ask for it, we go out of our way to inform the customers that this is due you and we will return it,” said Castro.
The bill deposit is the deposit required from customers by distribution utilities of new and/or additional services equivalent to the estimated billing for one month to guarantee payment of bills.
Under the Magna Calta for Residential Electricity consumers, the bill deposit should be refunded within one month from the termination of service provided all bills were paid. A customer who has paid his electric bills on or before its due date for three consecutive years may demand for a full refund of the deposit even prior to the termination of his service.
The customer will have to file an application with the concerned distribution utility which should refund the deposit within one month from receipt of such application.
“Since we don’t have any intention to use the money, we do not have the intention to keep the money; we do not have the intention of using it for our operation; why keep it when it is already due for return, for the refund to customers?” Castro said.
Energy Regulatory Commission commissioner Alexis Lumbatan, who personally attended the ceremony, lauded MORE Power for initiating the refund.
“I am so happy that I am here today, taking part in this great milestone. It is rare that the DU calls its consumers to return the bill the deposit. For five years, I have been with the commission and I’m the oversight commissioner for consumer affairs. That’s why this milestone is very-very close to me,” said Lumbatan.
The first three customers who received were Emmanuel Improgo, Baby Jean Agustin and Barangay chairman Romeo Losario Jagorin Jr. of Brgy. Sambag, Jaro, Iloilo City. They attended a simple ceremony at the MORE Power office where they formally accepted their bill deposit refund.
Agustin, who used to tap into those with a legitimate power connection and utilize a sub-meter, said the refund is an outstanding achievement.
Agustin applied for her connection in May 2020 and welcomed MORE Power for the refund, which could help their household.
Jagorin said he received a call from MORE Power for a refund of P2,500, which is a huge help to their family.
MORE Power now has 93,000 customers, up from 62,000 when it took over the electricity distribution system of Iloilo City three years ago.
Its systems loss significantly declined to 5.5 percent to 6 percent from 30 percent previously.
“In the five-year program, we are almost done in the rehabilitation at the primary level…But more importantly, we have started to introduce digitalization and the modernization of the system. And in the next two years, when we finish this five-year program, we will be able to establish a preventive or predictive maintenance program. We do not have to wait for something to go on fault before we repair,” Castro said.