Senator Win Gatchalian called on the concerned authorities to oversee the conduct of onsite electric meter reading amid heightened restrictions under the re-imposed enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to avoid a repeat of last year’s bill shock complaints.
“Ayaw na nating maulit pa yung kalituhan sa mataas na singil ng kuryente noong isang taon matapos ang ilang buwan ng pagpapatupad ng ECQ. Kaya dapat may natutunan na ang mga kinauukulan at may mga nakahandang hakbang na upang maiwasan ang bill shock,” the Chairperson of the Senate Energy Committee said.
Gatchalian appealed to local government units (LGUs), particularly those in areas declared under the NCR plus bubble, to cooperate with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Meralco in allowing the conduct of onsite meter readings to ensure the accuracy of billing to consumers, while observing health protocols.
It can be recalled that the ERC was barraged with numerous complaints over the sudden spike in consumers’ electric bills by midyear last year. Gatchalian’s Senate investigation into the matter led Meralco to admit that it failed to indicate that it had included the estimated March and April consumption in the May billing which caused confusion among consumers. The power distributor also revealed in the investigation that consumers were billed based on their average consumption from December 2019 to February 2020 because no meter reading was conducted from March to April while the ECQ was in effect.
“Umabot na sa 4.2 milyong mga Pilipino ang walang trabaho nitong nakaraang Pebrero, mas mataas kaysa sa bilang ng mga nawalan ng trabaho noong Enero ayon sa datos. Huwag na nating dagdagan pa ang pasanin nila. Ang Meralco din naman ang mahihirapan kung ang mga nasasakupan nila ay hindi kaagad makakabayad. Dapat magtulungan tayo,” Gatchalian said.
The ERC released a statement last March 26 pleading LGUs to allow Meralco’s meter readers to conduct actual meter reading in their respective areas of jurisdiction. Meralco, on the other hand, was directed by the commission to ensure their compliance to the prescribed health protocols to reduce the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 and this includes the wearing of the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) of the meter readers.