Power distributors told to refund experts' fees charged to consumers


Posted at Jul 06 2019 01:40 PM

MANILA — The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has ordered private power distributors to reimburse their consumers charged for "experts or consultants" fees.

In statement Saturday, ERC directed privately-owned electric distribution utilities (DUs), such as Meralco, to refund their unutilized Regulatory Reset Cost, with corresponding interest.

The Regulatory Reset Cost represents expenses incurred in engaging regulatory experts or consultants when setting and updating the DU’s electricity rates, according to ERC.

Under the Performance-Based Regulation (PBR) methodology, privately-owned DUs are allowed to charge the Regulatory Reset Cost in their revenue requirement.

However, ERC noted that "the 17th Congress appropriated funds for purposes of regulatory reset," leaving the collected Regulatory Reset Cost for the 3rd regulatory period untouched.

"The Commission is of the view that the cost of regulation should be at the expense of the government and should not be a burden to the electricity consumers... [T]he Commission deems it prudent to refund the amounts collected by DUs for this purpose," ERC chair Agnes Devanadera said.

ERC said the refund must be rolled out this month.

"The one-time refund shall be effected immediately in the July 2019 billing period... Electricity consumers of privately-owned distribution utilities are advised to check their electricity bills next month and find out if the Regulatory Reset Cost refund has been effected, including any relevant interest earned thereon."

The regulatory body said DUs will be mandated to submit a report to assure their compliance with the directive.