Manila Bulletin

ERC urged to consult ‘no disconnect­ion policy’


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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