Power utilities warned on ‘new bill shock’ under MECQ

Published August 5, 2020, 3:16 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The attention of the country’s power distribution utilities (DUs) had been called this early to make sure that no new round of ‘bill shocks’ will be suffered by the Filipino consumers during the newly-enforced modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

In particular, Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian sounded off that with the MECQ declaration, “meter readings may not be possible due to the lockdown period,” and such raises probability that a number of affected consumers may appeal anew for deferred or extension payment in their monthly bills.

Given such circumstances, he noted that the DUs, including the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), has to see to it that a repeat of the “unexplained bill shocks” – that were reminiscent of the summer months — will not recur.

“The consumers cannot afford another round of bill shock in their electricity bills,” the lawmaker stressed; adding that heaps of customers are still seeking resolution of under-estimation or over-estimation on their electric bills in previous months.

Prompted by that contention, power utility giant Meralco said its meter reading activities will go on despite the re-declaration of MECQ in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon covered by its franchise area, including those in Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan.

The utility firm added that even its business centers will continually operate and attend to the needs of customers, including those on payments, concerns and inquiries as well as service applications.

Meralco said it is closely coordinating with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) in regard to its seamless business operations even in the re-implementation of stricter lockdown measures.

And on the deployment of personnel to assigned tasks, the power company guaranteed that it has been enforcing “strict implementation of protocols of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force.”

On the sphere of meter reading, Meralco is appealing to the local government units and barangay officials “to recognize meter readers as among the essential workers granted permission to work amid MECQ, and allow them access to read meters of residences.”

The assurance given by the utility firm is for the process to be “unobtrusive” and that its deployed meter readers “will be in complete personal protective equipment,” as part of the comprehensive safety protocols instituted by the company.

It added that by ceaselessly carrying out meter reading activities, “this will ensure that actual consumption for the month will be billed accordingly.”