Advocacy group protests high electricity rates in Iloilo City

By Alena Mae S. Flores – October 09, 2018 at 07:35 pm

Members of Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and Environment trooped to the office of the Energy Regulatory Commission to protest the high electricity rates of Panay Electric Co.

The group joined the call of Iloilo power consumers for Congress not to renew the franchise of Peco.

Pinoy Aksyon, an independent advocacy group and think tank, said in a statement it wanted ERC to exercise its mandate as a regulatory agency by looking into the public utility franchise of Peco.

“ERC should look whether Peco is following to the letter its franchise as a public service provider or not. As a company engaged in delivery of public service, they should put first the interests of their consumers, and not just their bottom line or profit,” Pinoy Aksyon chairperson BenCy Ellorin said.

Among the reasons enumerated in the petition were overbilling, billing without reading of electric meter, frequent power outages, poor consumer relations, and disrespect to the City Council of Iloilo.

The group said it promotes consumer rights, good governance, and the right of the people to live in a healthful and balanced environment.

Peco consumers filed a complaint before the ERC last August. The ERC is set to hear the case this week.

An earlier petition by Peco consumers was addressed to Congress. In a petition-letter submitted to the House committee on legislative franchises, consumers called on Congress to disapprove the franchise renewal application of Peco, filed under House Bill 6023.

Ellorin said his group was helping the electric consumers of Peco bring their cause to the ERC and even in Congress where Peco’s franchise renewal was being deliberated.

A total of 96 complaints were lodged at the ERC against Peco covering the period 2017 to 2018, mostly over poor or improper billing and poor customer service.

“We have addressed the complaints and very few are remaining,” ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera said earlier.

“ERC’s top concerns are matters that will affect the consumers like the bill deposits which distribution utilities must refund to their consumers. This applies not only to PECO but also to all distribution utilities including electric cooperatives,” she said.

Devanadera said ERC’s main concern was the welfare of consumers and to ensure that service of electricity in Iloilo would continue.

“All other complaints like Peco’s failure to refund the excess payments and non-return of bill deposit we will address in the ERC,” said Devandera.

Peco is seeking the renewal of its franchise in Congress which is due to expire next year.