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ERC orders 20 Luzon power firms to refund up to P146M in overcollections

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it has directed 20 distribution utilities (DUs) in Luzon to refund overcollections totaling P146 million between January 2017 and December 2019.

In a statement Thursday, the ERC said the overcollections stem from the utility firms’ pass-through charges, including generation rates, transmission rates, system loss rates, lifeline subsidy rates, and senior citizen subsidy rates.

“These pass-through charges should be revenue-neutral on the part of the DUs, and they are not allowed to incur any additional revenue or losses therefrom,” ERC Chairperson and CEO Agnes VST Devanadera said in a statement.

The regulator said refunds may be implemented over 12 months, starting with the next billing cycle.

Laban Konsyumer, Inc. President Vic Dimagiba said that the ERC’s refund order was “lenient” for the Luzon-based DUs, compared to an earlier ERC order to Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

“This is lenient for the other 20 DUs as ERC allows 12 months to refund over recovery,” Mr. Dimagiba told BusinessWorld in a Viber message Thursday. He was referring to ERC’s order to Meralco to refund some P1.4 billion in overcollections within three months, or until the amount has been fully refunded.

In the order dated Dec. 29, the ERC also found that Meralco had incurred around P2.38 billion in underrecoveries, which it was allowed to collect over 24 months, or until fully collected.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Angelica Y. Yang

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