Meralco backs uniform bill format

By Lenie Lectura – July 18, 2018
from Business Mirror

THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said on Wednesday it will support a proposed policy of the Department of Energy (DOE) to unbundle electricity charge components.

This, despite existing Meralco power bills already reflecting all corresponding charges that the distribution utility (DU) collects from all electricity end-users, including but not limited to generation, transmission, distribution, supply and metering charges, bill and meter deposits, including interest and any other charges that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) may approve.

“We support all present initiatives to make the bills of customers further transparent,” said Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco assistant vice president for public information in an interview.

“The current bill format we have contains information that we feel already encapsulates all the necessary data and information the public needs,” added the Meralco official.

The DOE issued last month a draft circular adopting the framework for a uniform monthly electricity bill format.

“The DOE takes cognizance of the need to empower electricity end-users with greater understanding and transparency on the charges in its monthly electricity bill by unbundling the electricity charge components including those components that are not part of the unbundled rates but was collected from the consumers for security and reliability of services,” the draft circular stated.

The agency said electricity bills should be prepared in a simple and easy-to-understand format.  It said that subject to ERC regulation, all DUs should use a uniform bill format prescribed by the ERC.

Zaldarriaga assured the public the DOE that consumer interest is a priority for Meralco.

“We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure we will be able to address concerns regarding customers bills,” added the Meralco official.

Section 25 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act  requires every DU to identify and segregate in its bills to end-users the components of the retail rate.

The circular, once approved, will apply to all DUs including privately owned utilities; electric cooperatives; local government-owned utilities; entities authorized to operate within economic zones; and other entities authorized by law to distribute electricity to end-users.

The bill should contain the generation charge, transmission charge, system loss, distribution charge, supply charge, metering charge, other charges, subsidies or discounts, senior citizen discount, government taxes, local taxes, universal charge, missionary electrification charge, environmental charge,  stranded debts and contract costs of National Power Corp., feed-in-tariff allowance and other charges, among others.