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Meralco sets refund to 37,000 customers

Power utility giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has scheduled refund in this March billing for its 37,000 customers who paid the portion of its P4.15 per kilowatt hour (kWh) restrained rate hike in December billing.

According to Meralco assistant vice president Joe Zaldarriaga, the total refund amount would be P58 million for all customers who made full payments for that particular billing month.

He noted that those receiving pay-back will be very paltry compared to the utility firm’s 5.5 million customers.

Meralco had yielded to pressure from its rate hike case petitioners, primarily the Makabayan bloc, to return the collections it made prior to the issuance of the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) around December 23 last year.

The March billing is expected to be out next week, with the adjustments due for announcement anytime this week.

As of press time, officials of the utility firm noted that they were still waiting for billing from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

The company’s generation charge under December billing had been frozen at P5.67 per kilowatt hour (kWh) following the high court’s ruling. The restraining order was extended for another 60 days until April 22 this year.

That level of generation cost was sustained in its January billing, but when the SC clarified that the TRO just covered the December billing, Meralco had since then applied for the recovery of its deferred P5.33 per kWh adjustment in the January bills.

The company batted for six-month cost recovery with the initial month pegged at P0.844 per kWh and the succeeding months at P0.7433 per kWh.

Meralco has been batting for immediate recovery that should have started this March billing, but given the extent of opposition being thrown against its generation charge recovery filing, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has decided to subject it first to thorough public consultation.