03 December 2003
The Freedom from Debt Coalition calls upon the Energy Regulatory Commission to immediately revoke the provisional authority granted to Meralco, allowing it to raise its rates by 12 centavos per kilowatthour starting January 2004.
The ERC must not make a mockery of the processes especially pertaining to rates adjustment. Most of all, the regulatory agency must not be subservient to the propensity of utilities for asking for provisional rates increase at the expense of the consuming public.
FDC observed that the ERC often grants provisional relief in favor of utilities to the detriment of consumers. Often, the provisional relief is a fait accompli because the final decision is almost always the same as the provisional authority.
The ERC has jumped the gun on consumers when it allowed Meralco to raise its rates. FDC, together with other consumer groups, has filed a motion at the ERC asking Meralco to produce certain documents to support its claims. ERC has yet to act on the consumers’ legitimate requests.
On the other hand, consumers are not impressed with the ERC’s assurance that it will order a refund if the Commission finds, after the completion of the hearings, that the rate adjustment is unjust and unreasonable. Until this time, Meralco has yet to complete the refund of more than P30 billion that the Supreme Court ordered returned to consumers. Meralco even claims that the court-ordered refund has exacerbated cash flow problems, prompting the need to raise its rates.
Thus, FDC demands the ERC to immediately revoke Meralco’s provisional authority. FDC further demands that a thorough public scrutiny over Meralco’s claims should be conducted. These claims should be thoroughly examined and checked whether or not they are indeed necessary for its efficient service. Meralco should not be allowed to finance its capital expenditures from rates increases.