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Solons ask Meralco to explain 'shocking' bills 

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Two lawmakers asked Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to help consumers understand the "shocking" electricity bills it issued for May during the Joint Congressional Energy Commission hearing.


Meralco Vice President and Head for Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications Victor Genuino explained that the bills for March and April were based on the previous three-month average consumption, and that meter reading activities partially resumed starting April 11 for commercial customers and April 27 for residential ones.

Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco asked how many customers were actually covered by the meter-reading activities during the enhanced community quarantine.

"In April po, wala pa pong one percent ang nabasahan natin noong Abril," Genuino said.

"You have a lot of explaining to do because ang na-meter read niyo lang is one percent or less than one percent of your whole franchise and then you gave us this explanation applying to everyone," Velasco said in response.

"When you sent the bill, dapat mas talagang naging proactive kayo. You should have just attached already the explanation of how you came about with that computation," he added.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian also pointed out that power distributors need not create "undue stress" among the public amid the pandemic.

"Talagang mahihilo ka, magkakaroon ka ng bill shock. Even though Meralco admitted na may pagkukulang sila, I have to reiterate talagang malaki ang pagkukulang pagdating sa transparency," he said.

"We have to unbundle the exact rates that are being charged to consumers, hindi 'yung ganitong naka-lumpsum," he added.

Genuino admitted that Meralco "could have done better" in informing its customers about their May bill and said the company will intensify its efforts for continuous consumer education, moving forward.

"Ikukwento ho natin itong mga scenarios na ito sa mga customer natin by sending them very specific letters, explaining ano ho ang scenario sa bill nila," he said.

He added that Meralco will keep its lines open for inquiries through its call centers, social media page, and coordination with the media and consumers' groups.

A few days ago, the Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Meralco to explain how it computed the consumption of its captive customers during the enhanced community quarantine, following complaints of alleged high billings.

The ERC has also directed all distribution utilities to "conduct actual meter readings and thereafter issue a new billing reflecting the actual consumption and the corresponding amount due, not later than 8 June 2020, except when actual reading is not possible due to the implementation of community quarantine."

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