The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) reported that it already resolved more than 71,900 “bill shock” complaints that electricity end-users experienced at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic or around summertime last year.

The ‘bill shock’ stemmed from relatively ‘high electric bills’ dispatched to consumers in the initial stringent lockdown imposed by the government because of the health crisis, largely due to the fact that billings were just based on ‘estimates’ as mandated by the industry regulator.

ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera noted that the Commission received a total of 74,107 complaints from the customers of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco). Of Of total complaints, 71,323 were already decided on and resolved while 2,784 complaints are still pending.

Of the Meralco cases still due for final action or ruling, “these are either due to instances when the compromise agreement didn’t fly and/or the complaint progressed into the filing of formal complaints,” she said.

For the other distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives, the ERC chief emphasized that the number of customer-complaints on bill shocks had been relatively marginal – with aggregate 1,354 cases; and 585 of these were already resolved; while 769 are still classified as pending.

Devanadera explained that the customer-complaints were sent to the ERC through various online platforms and manual channels – including emails, Facebook posts or messages. Some consumers also preferred sending handwritten complaints.

The process that the ERC upheld in addressing the ‘bill shock complaints’, according to Denavadera, had been through mediation – and in the proceedings, the industry regulator acts as the intermediary between the DU and the customer.

“The process is usually mediation, very informal. The moment we received it, we refer the complaint to the DU for comment and then we set it for conference; and so we move on from there…we exert efforts in coming up with a compromise for a solution,” she stressed.

She expounded that many of the customers with complaints usually concur to “little adjustment in their bills or will agree to correction in their bills.”

Devanadera qualified that for the remaining unresolved cases with the other DUs and electric cooperatives, most of the consumers who filed complaints “no longer respond to our email or messages,” and it has been more difficult also for the ERC to reach out to them because they are not from Metro Manila.

The regulatory agency conveyed though that “we cannot just close them (complaints) until we have finally determined if they will still pursue these complaints, but most are not responding to the calls of ERC anymore.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (