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Consumers hail ERC move to order DU refunds.

CONSUMER group Murang Kuryente (MK) on Monday commended the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for ordering distribution utilities (DUs) to refund their customers on unused Regulatory Reset Cost (RRC).

RRC represents expenses incurred in engaging regulatory experts or consultants when setting and updating the DU's electricity rates. Under the commission's performance-based regulation (PBR) methodology, DUs are allowed to charge RRC in their revenue requirement.

Twelve DUs were ordered by the ERC to refund more than P20.8 million to their respective consumers, said the ERC last week. 'The Commission has ruled that regulation should be at the cost of the government, and we will consider the same ruling in our current review of the regulatory reset process,' ERC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Agnes VST Devanadera had said.

'We thank Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera and the ERC for recognizing the excessive billing of DUs. However, we would also like to remind her that Meralco [Manila Electric Co.] has yet to fully implement the refund orders give to it, and so we will watch closely if the new set of DUs will comply with the order to return the money of consumers by July,' Murang Kuryente Spokesman Gerry Arances said in a statement Monday.

The ERC earlier computed the regulatory reset cost to be refunded by Meralco at P0.0731 per kWh in July.

DUs affected by the refund include: Cabanatuan Electric Corp. (Celcor); Clark Electric Distribution Corp. (CEDC); Dagupan Electric Power Corp. (Decorp); La Union Electric Co. (Lueco); San Fernando Electric Light and Power Co. (Sfelapco); Tarlac Electric Inc. (TEI); Bohol Light Co. Inc. (BLCI); Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco); Cotabato Light and Power Co. (CLPC); Davao Light and Power Co. (DLPC); Iligan Light and Power Inc. (ILPI); and Visayan Electric Co. (Veco).

Also, the commission required the DUs to submit a compliance report on or before August 15.

'Having begun this trend, we also ask the ERC to consider other pass-on costs of DUs, such as the pending case on real property taxes [RPTs] filed by electric co-ops,' said Arances.

'Murang Kuryente said it forced a delay in the hearings concerning the petition of the Philippine Electric Rural Cooperatives Association [Philreca], an association of rural electric cooperatives in the country, to allow them to charge their member-consumers with RPTs assessed on cooperatives by local government units (LGUs).

'Murang Kuryente remains firm in its advocacy that electricity is a right and should not be burdened with unnecessary costs to consumers. We are hoping that the ERC will stand with us on this advocacy,' said Arances.

Arances, who is also the executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) lauded the decision of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to divest from coal, following Pope Francis's encyclical letter on the environment.

'The moral leadership of the Church lends great weight to our cause for a coal-free Philippines. No amount of short-term profit justifies the long-term compromise of the health of our people and the Earth's climate,' said Arances.

The decision to divest from coal is one of the 10 action plans for Laudato Si National Campaign which was presented to the bishops during the recent Plenary Assembly in Manila.

The Philippines is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, yet it is also one of the few countries in the world where investments in coal continue to rise.

The CBCP is the most recent institution of the Catholic Church to make the move away from coal.

The bishops of Belgium, Ireland and Australia have preceded the CBCP in these divestments, along with 120 other Catholic institutions around the world.

'My hope is that this is the beginning of a trend where all investors will reject coal and other fossil fuels, choosing the Earth over their pockets,' said Arances.

In 2015, the Vatican published Laudato si' (Praise Be to You), an encyclical subtitled 'On care for a common home,' which stated that the warming of the planet is a symptom of the world pursuing short-term economic gains at the expense of harming the planet.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jul 16, 2019
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