ERC orders audit of meter deposits’ refund

by Myrna Velasco – June 1, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

The refund of meter deposits undertaken by the distribution utilities, including that of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), has been mandated to go through an audit process by an independent third party.

The order was contained in Resolution No. 13 Series of 2016 that was publicly issued this week by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) but was signed as early as April.

The ERC directed that the DUs shall “engage the services of an independent external auditor (IEA) for the conduct of an audit of the meter deposit refund,” – both for residential and non-residential customers.

A final audit report has also been prescribed for submission to the Commission on or before December 31 this year.

The specific data and information that the ERC wanted to be fleshed out by the independent auditor include: The principal amount of meter deposits for refund; the total amount of meter deposits already refunded; as well as the total amount of meter deposits still be refunded.

The others would cover the total amount of unclaimed meter deposits; the total amount of accrued interests of meter deposits; the total amount of meter deposit credited to monthly billings of the consumers; and the total amount applied as an offset to the obligations of the consumers.

The audit process will also pore over the total amount converted as contribution of member-consumers of the electric cooperatives; the total amount of meter deposit paid in cash or in check to consumers; as well as other pertinent information relating to the refund of the meter deposits.

The regulatory body specified that “before the audit commences, the DU should ensure that all necessary documents as well as key personnel will be available during the audit process.”

The independent auditor, it was emphasized, “shall prepare and obtain sufficient evidence to support the audit findings and to draw reasonable conclusions on which to base the audit findings.”

The ERC further prescribed that the IEA “shall examine the compliance of the DUs with the Commission’s rules and regulations on meter deposit refund.”

The independent audit entity has also been directed to “include all financial findings” in the audit report that it shall be submitting to the ERC.

“The IEA is expected to verify that all necessary supporting documents, records and accounts have been maintained by the DU with respect to the meter deposit refund,” the regulatory body added.