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THE Department of Energy (DoE) said it instructed the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to require all distribution utilities and electric cooperatives to include in a consumer’s monthly bill the deposits paid upon installation of their electric meters plus the interest earned through the years.

“We have instructed ERC to require the DUs (distribution utilities) and the cooperatives to put a line [in the monthly power bill stating] how much is the deposit made by the consumer, and how much [they] have earned,” DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told reporters in an informal briefing.

He said the move should shift the “burden of proof” to the part of electric utilities from that of consumers, who might have no document to show when they opt for electricity disconnection.

“The burden of proof is with the consumer. You paid, you made your deposit, yet when you have to get your refund, the burden of proof is yours,” Mr. Cusi said.

He said the DoE’s move was meant to promote transparency, and making consumers informed of what they are entitled to, including their rights as electricity users.

He did not give an estimate of the amount that has been collected as security deposit, but a utility with six million of customers and collects about P5,000 in deposit would count up a total collected amount in the billions of pesos.

Mr. Cusi said instances when consumers hypothetically move residence from the franchise area of Manila Electric Co. to that of the Visayas Electric Co., Inc. (VECO) may mean these consumers do not have their original contracts with them. But when they go to the utility, they might be required to present documents to prove the refund claim.

Sought for comment, Jaime Jose Y. Aboitiz, vice-chairman and president of VECO, said the information on consumer deposit and interest would not be difficult on the part of the company as is readily available.

“It’s not a big deal,” he said.

He said the deposit is equivalent to around a month’s electricity cost, which was computed based on the customer’s available electric-powered appliances and usage.

“It’s going to be more of an additional work for the company — to calculate, to add it into the bill,” said Anton Mari G. Perdices, chief operating officer of VECO.

Reference:

Saulon, V. V. (September 11, 2017). Energy dep’t orders power bills to include consumer’s meter deposit. Business World. Retrieved from http://bworldonline.com/energy-dept-orders-power-bills-include-consumers-meter-deposit/

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