Bayan Muna to ERC: Fast track probe on Meralco

April 19, 2022 People's Tonight 393 views

Says refunds needed now to defray power rate hikes

HOUSE Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate today called on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to “stop sitting on complaints against Meralco that may result in alleviating the economic hardships now being suffered by millions of consumers in its franchise area.”

“Meralco should be made accountable for all the amount it may have overcharged its captive consumers,”Rep. Zarate said.

“Huwag sana itong maging kaso na idinelay daw ang mas malaking power rate increase para itago ang mas malaki pa na dapat ibalik sa mga konsyumer,” said the progressive solon.

The Davao-based solon aired his query as customers of Meralco brace for an additional 53.63 centavos per kilowatt-hour (kWh) this month—the biggest increase so far this year— reportedly due to the supposed higher cost of electricity the distributor buys from its suppliers.This will translate to an increase of P102 in
the total bill of a household consuming 200 kWh a month.

He said Bayan Muna and the consumer watchdog Matuwid na Singil sa Kuryente (MSK) have previously raised concerns and questioned at least three instances of Meralco suspicious practices of consumer overcharging now running to billions:

MSK questioned it before the ERC in 2019, yet, it remains unresolved.

Based on MSK’s computation, Meralco’s distribution rate of P1.38 per kwh was arrived at based on a projection of Meralco’s energy sales for 2013 at about 30 billion kwh. MSK questioned this since in its annual report, Meralco claimed sales of Meralco 34 billion kwh. in fact, by 2018, its sales were already at 44 billion kwh. Annual sales growth used in projection was 3.5% compared to the the actual growth announced by Meralco at 6.8%.

These higher sales evidently has been giving Meralco windfall profits that MAK calculated to be at least P29 billion up to 2018.

Even assuming that Meralco has other sales and purchases, we also call on the Commission on Audit (COA) or as the ERC promised during a Congress Energy Committee hearing for an independent audit of Meralco to make sure the captive consumers are not being overcharged.

This was discovered in the process of analyzing Meralco’s charges during the pandemic.

The P4.05 Billion premium payment to Quezon Power that is 52% over the average coal of power suppliers of Meralco for 2020. This also needs an audit to assure that the discrepancies are legitimate.

“MSK had filed these complaints officially with the ERC more than a year ago. Bayan Muna has also filed resolutions to probe these overcharging issues against Meralco and other distribution utilities and we trust the ERC to use its regulatory powers to resolve these issues the soonest for the benefit of our already struggling consumers,” he said

“In the audit of the P66 billion discrepancy, it is to unravel the mystery, how can Meralco sell more power than it is buying? This requires validating the power delivery of their power suppliers and their actual billings for power supply to Meralco and the actual payments.

These numbers can also be cross checked with the metering records of NGCP. We call on ERC to get to the bottom of this, so that consumers can be refunded of their money, if warranted, and for those responsible for this should be made accountable.Kailangang-kailangang makatipid ngayon ng mamamayan kaya dapat na mas mabilis kumilos ang ERC,” ended Rep. Zarate.