Relief for power consumers pushed

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    Senate committee on energy chairman Sherwin Gatchalian urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to come up with relief measures to consumers in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

    Gatchalian also cautioned power distribution utilities (DUs) to ensure consumers will not experience bill shock anew if and when they cannot do meter readings in MECQ areas.

    “We’re at it again. Metro Manila and nearby areas are now back to MECQ. Meter readings may not be possible due to the lockdown period. Add to this is the possibility that a number of affected consumers may appeal anew for deferred or extension of payment in their monthly bills,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

    The lawmaker said it is incumbent upon the ERC, as the government’s supervisory body in the power sector, to give relief to consumers and ensure their interests are protected.

    “Just like the time when the Luzon-wide ECQ was extended, the ERC undertook measures that somehow eased the burden of affected consumers by directing all DUs in the country such as Meralco (Manila Electric Co.) to allow a staggered payment scheme. We’re hoping to hear a similar directive in the days to come,” Gatchalian said.

    He also urged the ERC and the Department of Energy to immediately issue corresponding directives applicable to all areas in the country in whatever classification of community quarantine they are in.

    “We should have learned already from our experiences under the previous ECQ and MECQ. At this point, we should already fix things that may possibly cause any confusion to our consumers,” the senator further stated.