By Hannah Torregoza
Power consumers should not be made to pay unused electricity contracted by distribution utilities like the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and other electric cooperatives during the enhanced community quarantine, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Thursday.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, said the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the power generating companies (GenCos) should relax the provisions in the Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) so that consumers won’t have to pay for electricity they did not consume.
The senator noted that during the enhanced community quarantine, there has been a decrease in energy demand by 30 percent.
While there has been an increase in residential demand, most of economic activities have slowed down as well as other activities in the energy sector.
Gatchalian said Filipino households will have to pay for the power they have not consumed if the ERC and GenCos will not relax the provisions in the PSAs that require distribution utilities or DUs to purchase a minimum amount of electricity.
Gatchalian explained DUs are left without an option but to pay for the same amount of electricity from GenCos even when the demand is low.
Since there is a pass on provision on PSAs, he said that would eventually compel consumers to pay for unconsumed electricity.
Gatchalain urged the ERC and the GenCos to spare consumers from this kind of burden at this time out of humanitarian consideration.
“Naging malaking dagok na nga sa ating kalusugan ang nakamamatay na COVID-19. Bugbog na bugbog na ang mga tao sa paghahanap ng makakain araw-araw. Ipapasan pa ba natin ang pagbayad sa kuryenteng hindi naman nila ginamit (COVID-19 has become a serious threat to our health. The people have been struggling to find food every day. Do we have to make them pay for electricity they did not use?), Gatchalian said.
“During this time of crisis, we need to think of solutions to ease the burden of the people,” the senator stressed.
“That’s why we urge the ERC and GenCos to arrive at an equitable solution for the benefit of all Filipinos,” Gatchalian said.