Panay Power in hot water for failing to refund P631 million to customers

By BusinessMirror – October 5, 2018

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has castigated the Panay Electric Co. (Peco), the sole electricity supplier in Iloilo City, for failing to refund P631 million in overbilling to its customers, adding to its woes following multiple complaints recently from customers over bills that rose by as much as 1,000 percent under a new metering scheme.

Officials of the ERC told the House Committee on Legislative Franchises that the Cacho family-owned electric utility has failed to fully comply with its directive in 2004 to refund the P631 million in overbilling discovered after customers complained they were billed for unused electricity.

The complaint from the ERC further complicated Peco’s situation and fueled the position of many members of the House Legislative Franchises Committee to deny Peco a renewal of its 90-year-old franchise, which would be expiring in January 2019.

Iloilo City Councilor Joshua Alim informed the House committee the ERC also needed to step in early this year to address multiple complaints from Iloilo residents that the utility firm suddenly raised their bills by as much as 1,000 percent without informing them of the reason.

Alim informed the House committee that a resolution is pending in the Iloilo City Council asking the national government to deny Peco a new franchise and for the government to take over the operations of the utility “until such time that another qualified distribution utility may come in.”

Councilor R. Leone Gerochi, author of the resolution, noted that in several cases lodged with the ERC by cause-oriented groups, Peco was “declared to have overcharged its customers on several occasions and seems to have a penchant for overbilling its consumers.”

Gerochi disclosed the Cacho franchise has yet to fully comply with the ERC directive to refund the P631 million it over-billed from its customers.

“There is a lack of transparency in so far as the operations of PECO are concerned,” the resolution stated, adding the company has been operating for 90 years.