A welcome relief amid the rising cost of living was how Senator Win Gatchalian viewed the P7.8 billion refund in electricity bills ordered by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) for overcharges.
“Given its mandate of protecting consumer interest as an independent electric power industry regulator, I laud the latest order issued by the ERC to Meralco. The relief that will be enjoyed by consumers for a period of 12 months can make a difference especially to poor households,” Gatchalian said.
The demand for a refund which is equivalent to 46.69 centavos per kilowatt hour (kWh) is equivalent to P93 for residential customers consuming 200 kWh.
The re-electionist senator likewise extolled Meralco in assuring its customers immediate compliance starting this month.
“It’s appropriate and timely and shows the company’s due regard to the interests of their consumers especially at a time when the cost of other basic commodities is increasing,” Gatchalian said.
The refund stemmed from ERC’s re-computation of Meralco’s regulatory asset base (RAB) for the period 2012 to 2015 which resulted in over-recoveries or excess collection for the said period.
On top of the said refund, the Senate Committee on Energy chairman noted some laws in place in overseeing consumer welfare.
These include the Murang Kuryente Act which he co-authored and Republic Act No. 115521 which extended the lifeline rates for the poor until 2051 which he principally authored.
“Sa ilalim ng Murang Kuryente Act, nakakatipid tayo ng P1 per kilowatt hour at katumbas ito ng P200 kada buwan o apat hanggang limang kilo ng bigas. Samantalang ang lifeline rate extension ay pagpapatuloy ng pagtanggap ng subsidiya ng pinakamahihirap nating mga kababayan. Dapat expired na ito ngayong taon pero na-extend natin ito for another 30 years para mabigyan sila ng dagdag na subsidiya,” Gatchalian explained.