By Myrna M. Velasco
On targeted rules modification in the handling of consumers’ bill deposits, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has scheduled new round of consultations to take public pulse on this regulation.
The regulatory body announced that it will be undertaking focus group discussions (FGDs) as well as solicit written inputs from relevant and affected stakeholders, primarily distribution utilities and electric cooperatives.
The ECs, in particular, have been directed “to submit their comments and/or inputs on said draft rules within the receipt of notice.”
The propounded rules modification is set forth by the ERC relative to monitoring as well as governance on the bill deposits being posted by consumers once they avail of electricity service from power utilities.
As noted by ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera, the regulator intends to inject transparency in the handling and accounting of bill deposits – given the controversies that this matter had taken as a toll also on the Commission.
She emphasized that the proposed rule-changes will direct “distribution utilities to maintain and develop in their official websites, consumer information disclosing all important terms and conditions, systems and procedures on bill deposits in clear and comprehensible language for the consumers.”
Essentially, the bill deposits being collected from residential and non-residential customers have been intended “to guarantee the payment of electricity bills for new and/or additional service and from disconnected consumers who were previously not subject to bill deposit.”
The bill deposit, in particular, “is equivalent to the estimated billing for one month based on the load schedule of the consumer to guarantee payment of his/her bills.”
The ERC’s draft rules primarily integrate a provision on the preparation and submission of periodic report – that they must do so under oath.
The timeframe for such submission has been prescribed to be complied with on or before December 31 of each year.
That particular report must flesh out details of the total amount of bill deposit collected, including interest earned and the amount credited or refunded to its consumers.