ERC pressed to direct DUs to halt power disconnection


The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) was asked Thursday to direct power distribution utilities (DUs) to “replicate Meralco’s no disconnection policy” amid the Duterte administration’s imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to contain Covid spread.

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, prodded ERC to take the cue from Meralco’s move to “suspend all disconnection activities” within their franchise areas placed under ECQ and MECQ.

At the same time, Gatchalian renewed his call for local government units (LGU) to allow continued onsite meter readings to ensure accuracy of consumers’ electric bills after Meralco confirmed continued meter reading and bill delivery activities.

Stressing the need to avoid a repeat of last year’s bill shock, Gatchalian groaned: “We have had enough of this in the past and both the consumers and the DUs [Distribution Utilities] should have learned from what happened. If consumers will be billed appropriately, then
they would not have any reason why they should not settle their obligation on a later date.”

Invoking humanitarian considerations to consumers, the senator cited Meralco’s announcement it will suspend all disconnection activities in Metro Manila and Laguna which are both placed under ECQ, noting that the coverage of Meralco’s “no service disconnection” policy was extended to provinces under MECQ—Cavite, Rizal, and Lucena in Quezon province.

Gatchalian affirmed that most of the power firms’ customers are currently in dire straits, adding  “Anumang dagdag palugit sa kanilang mga naipong bayarin ay malaking kaginhawaan lalo na’t inaasahang maraming manggagawa ang mawawalan ng trabaho sa ilalim ng ECQ.”

In a news statement, Gatchalian recalled that the national government’s pandemic task force has just included Iloilo City and Cagayan de Oro City in the list of areas under ECQ from August 6 to 15 while a number of key provinces are also subject to heightened restrictions until the end of the month due to the rising number of the Delta variant cases of Covid-19.

At the same time, the senator reminded the Duterte administration was able to implement a “no disconnection policy last year that was extended up to the first few months of the current year.”

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