The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) appealed to local government units (LGUs), particularly those under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), to be more lenient with meter readers of distribution utilities (DUs) and allow them to conduct reading activities.
“We urge LGUs under the MECQ to allow the distribution utilities’ meter readers, with properly issued IATF (Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) pass and in complete personal protective equipment (PPEs), to conduct actual meter reading to enable the DUs to reflect and bill the consumers’ actual electricity consumption in order to avoid possible bill shocks,” Agnes Devanadera, the regulatory body’s chairperson and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The ERC is directing DUs to provide their meter readers and other frontline personnel with complete PPEs and other logistical requirements, such as transportation.
“We are being proactive this time to prevent another episode of the surge of consumer complaints due to the failure of the DUs to conduct actual meter reading. We are appealing to the LGUs to allow and extend any needed assistance to the meter readers to prevent a second wave of bill shock,” Devanadera added.
Prior to the ERC’s statement, consumer group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) called on regulators of both water and electricity to actively seek the compliance of LGUs in allowing the utilities to proceed with meter reading activities.
“We need right now the complete support of both the regulators and the LGUs and barangay officials to make this work, for the benefit and welfare of consumers enduring through this ongoing MECQ,” said Vic Dimagiba, LKI president.
He urged LGUs and barangay officials to recognize meter readers as among the essential workers granted permission to work amid MECQ as these deployed personnel are also expected to be wearing complete PPEs and remain totally compliant with safety procedures.
Earlier, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) assured its business operations, including meter reading activities will continue despite the enforcement of MECQ in Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan.
Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco spokesman, said business centers will also remain open to handle customer payments, concerns, inquiries and service applications apart from a crew on standby 24/7 to respond to emergencies and reports.
“In line with this, Meralco appeals to LGUs and barangay officials to recognize meter readers as among the essential workers granted permission to work amid MECQ and allow them access to read meters of residences. Rest assured this will be unobtrusive and the deployed meter readers will be in complete personal protective equipment, bearing in mind safety procedures. This will ensure that actual consumption for the month will be billed accordingly,” he explained.