Consumer group seeks P29.6B refund from Meralco
By Eileen Mencias
Electric consumer advocacy group Matuwid na Singil sa Kuryente Consumers Alliance Inc. (MSK) has filed a petition with the Energy Regulatory Commission for a P29.6 billion refund from Manila Electric Co. for over-recovery of the allowed annual distribution charges from 2013 to 2018.
Over-recovery refers to collections or charges made by a regulated utility like Meralco of more than what was allowed or intended by regulators.
MSK said the distribution rate that is being charged now by Meralco was computed back in 2013 and was based on lower energy sales of 30.61 billion kilowatts a year.
“Meralco sales have been growing at an average of 6.78% per year in the last 9 years, resulting in windfall revenues of an estimated P29.6 billion up to 2018,” MSK said.
MSK said the excess recovery from distribution charges is separate from the PBR rate setting methodology that determines the annual revenue requirement (ARR) which is the total revenue that Meralco is allowed to make from consumer distribution charges after factoring in its expenses, investments and allowed return.
The ARR “is not an object of careful methodology much less public consultations by ERC,” MSK said.
The current rate of P1.38 per kWh was for July 2011 to June 2015 and based on the 30.61 billion kWh sales for 2013.
MSK asked ERC to immediately order a provisional refund of at least 50% or P14.8 billion while it determines the true extent of over charges and due interests for 2013 to 2018.
“It is unconscionable to allow Meralco to continue enjoying the use of excess charges for their corporate benefit and to the disadvantage of the consumers,” MSK said.
MSK also asked the ERC to investigate why it used a 30.61-billion kWh for Meralco’s energy sales in 2012 as the assumption in the formula it uses when Meralco’s energy sales that year was already at 34 billion kWh.