THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has been implementing various programs and initiatives to help ease the burden of its customers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a virtual press conference, the power firm said businesses within the Meralco franchise area saved around P3.2 billion on their electric bills after the utility waived its Guaranteed Minimum Billing Demand (GMBD), helping over 95,000 customers that are mostly small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“During the height of the pandemic last year, when the community restrictions were at the strictest and businesses were not allowed to operate, Meralco provided payment relief for businesses that were not able to meet their guaranteed minimum billing demand,” Meralco Head of Utility Economics Lawrence S. Fernandez said.
Meralco has been very involved in providing its business customers with more sustainable solutions that will help them moving forward as they recover from the pandemic.
“Meralco has been directly contacting businesses and meeting with them to see what assistance Meralco can provide such as doing energy audits, or rightsizing their contracts,” Mr. Fernandez added.
For all its customers, Meralco also suspended disconnection activities in areas that were then under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), modified ECQ, and granular lockdowns as part of the utility’s commitment to keep the lights on throughout the pandemic.
“Meralco is probably the only utility in the country that suspended service disconnection the longest. We understand the need for electricity when we were all asked to limit mobility and stay at home, so we did what we can to help — which is to continue serving with quality and reliable electricity service 24/7,” said Meralco Vice President for Corporate Communications Joe R. Zaldarriaga.
The company also continued to extend compassionate service by continuing to offer the option to avail of installment payment arrangements (IPAs) to customers who are experiencing difficulty in paying their bills.
From May 2020 to October 2021, Meralco IPAs benefitted over 230,000 customers, majority of which are residential consumers.
“We continue to collaborate with the entire industry in ensuring that there will be no disruption of supply. Those who requested for payment extensions, even beyond what was ordered to us by the regulator, we made sure that customers who needed time to recover from the financial impact of the pandemic were supported and assisted,” Mr. Zaldarriaga said.