Last week, the Energy Regulatory Commission ordered—for the fourth time since last year—the listed power distributor Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to refund to its residential customers a total P21.8 billion in overcharges.
That translates to 87 centavos per kilowatt hour, a hefty amount—if in fact it should thus be refunded—which would mean a good financial load off the shoulders of customers.
It boggles the mind that Meralco is slower in making the refund than in imposing previously the overcharges.
The ERC, in its 68-page decision, directed Meralco to reimburse residential customers the equivalent of 87 centavos per kilowatt hour (kWh), which means a typical household that consumes 200 kWh per month will see a P174 refund in the bill beginning in July and in the next 11 months for a lump sum of P2,088.
Hopes are high among customers, who have been jabbed by the pandemic, that Meralco will implement the refund, faster, if possible than a customer can see the wall or ceiling lights even before he can press the switch on.
ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera said the adjustments have been made to reflect the final computation of a tariff-setting methodology by which power firms are able to collect distribution costs.
Customarily, a distribution firm is given a five-year regulator-approved formula to compute distribution expenses — in the instant case the overcharges covered July 2015 to June 22.
Said Devanadera in a statement: “We wanted to ensure that all over-recoveries shall be refunded complete with interest.” Which is just proper.
It is edifying a thought that Meralco vice president and head of corporate communications Joe Zaldarriaga has said Meralco will comply with the ERC order.
Read Zaldarriaga’s lips: “We are currently studying the order so we can start reflecting this in the power bills this month (July).
“While we have yet to receive suppliers’ billings, there is a possibility that the refund can offset the expected increase in generation charge and lead to a reduction in the overall power rates for July.”
ERC earlier on ordered a refund of P13.9 billion in over-recoveries in January 2021, a P4.8 billion refund in February this year, which brings the total refund for residential customers to P1.8009 per kWh.
Let the rresidential customers see the light of the ERC order in their bill this month.