By Myrna M. Velasco
Meralco customers will receive two-tiered billings this month but some 2.8 million of them have yet wait pending the actual meter readings on their consumption during the lockdown.
Meralco Vice President Lawrence S. Fernandez said the bills will include detailed installment-payments on their consumption during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that stretched from March to May.
The unbilled 2.8 million customers account for 40 percent of the total 6.9 million customer base of Meralco as of first quarter this year.
Joe Zaldarriaga, spokesperson of the power utility firm, further explained that customers with meter readings will receive an explanation on the calculation of their consumption to guide them on the installment payments as mandated by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
For customers who already paid their bills prior will also see adjustment in their billings when actual meter readings had been done on their usage; and those who opted to pay via the Meralco mobile app shall likewise get a refund of the ₱47 convenience fee that they previously shouldered. They must be informed of such refund through various communication channels, including text messages.
He emphasized that the bills to be dispatched to consumers in the June billing cycle are already based on their actual consumption; and their meters have already been properly read – meaning, the figures are no longer based on “estimates” which had happened during the chaotic ECQ phase.
Zaldarriaga indicated many household consumers may see uptick in their consumption given that most are confined in their homes during the ECQ period – adding it to the fact that many were also on work-from-home arrangements at that time.
He stressed that cooling devices such as air-conditioners and refrigerators had generally driven up their electricity usage; and that had been swelled further by the need to recharge work-essential gadgets such as computers and mobile phones.
On the installment payment, Agnes Macob, head of commercial operations of Meralco, emphasized that customers shall depend on the scale of their usage during the ECQ period (as referenced on their February consumption level).
For those in the usage band of 200 kilowatt hours (kWhs) and below, the installment payments will be for six months or from June to November this year; while those with 201 and up consumption can settle their bills in four installments from June to September this year.
She said the installment payments had been divided equally in four or six months; and settlement of these amounts shall be on top of the current bill of the customer. Such payment scheme applies both to the household and business customers.
Meralco customers can settle their bills in all accredited payment channels – either via the online apps, banks as well as the payment and business centers of the company.
The executives of the utility firm further assured that the company will extend leniency according to the payment capability of customers – and it will not issue disconnection notices in the succeeding months in consideration of the financial encumbrances that many Filipinos had to wade through because of the pandemic.