Manila Bulletin

ERC urged to con­sult ‘no dis­con­nec­tion pol­icy’

- By MYRNA M. VE­LASCO Business · Manila Electric Company · Manila

The En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion (ERC) was urged to un­der­take vir­tual public con­sul­ta­tions on its “no dis­con­nec­tion pol­icy” for the power in­dus­try, so con­sumers and the dis­tri­bu­tion util­i­ties (DUs) would not keep guess­ing how this par­tic­u­lar rule would be en­forced.

Since the power sec­tor’s plight is now over­whelmed by di­verse voices, in­clud­ing the bid of some ad­vo­cacy groups for "stop pay­ment" on elec­tric bills, Laban Kon­syumer Inc. Pres­i­dent Vic­to­rio Mario Dimag­iba in­di­cated that the public con­sul­ta­tion is crit­i­cal so the ERC can also con­sider var­i­ous view­points be­fore is­su­ing guide­lines on the "no dis­con­nec­tion" di­rec­tive.

ERC Chair­per­son Agnes T. De­vanadera sounded off in a Se­nate hear­ing that the reg­u­la­tory body will pre­vent cut-off or stop­page of power service un­til De­cem­ber 31 this year – which is ba­si­cally a two-month ex­ten­sion from ear­lier plans of is­suance of dis­con­nec­tion notices by some DUs, in­clud­ing the Manila Elec­tric Com­pany.

On Dimag­iba’s view, be­fore the in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor would ad­min­is­ter that pol­icy, the ERC will need to lay down how the gov­ern­ment can sub­si­dize the ar­rears of con­sumers who are not re­ally ca­pa­ble to pay their bills.

“We should look be­yond just pro­vid­ing for ex­ten­sion,” Dimag­iba stressed; while quizzing the ERC “what hap­pens af­ter De­cem­ber if bills are not yet paid?”

He em­pha­sized that one crit­i­cal de­ci­sion point for the in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor to con­sider is “where do the na­tional gov­ern­ment stand on pro­vid­ing sub­sidy to those not able to pay?”

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