MANILA — Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares on Wednesday said that Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has raked in Php17 billion in profits in 2013 and it should refund customers in light of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) report that Meralco and power plants withheld supply during the Malampaya shutdown which led to price increases.
“Some quarters are saying that at least 80% of the 5.3 million customers of Meralco have already paid before the Supreme Court (SC) temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued and the refund could amount to billions,” said the senior deputy minority leader.
He said Meralco should refund the whole increase and double it for damages incurred by consumers because of the power overprice.
“Meralco and the power companies should also be held accountable for jacking up power rates in the country,” Colmenares pointed out.
On Tuesday, the Energy Regulatory Commission Investigation Unit (ERC IU) said it found Meralco and 12 other power suppliers liable for market abuse in connection with the December power rate hike.
The suppliers may face penalties ranging from Php50,000 to Php50 million.
Meralco sought an increase in electricity rates following a lack of power supply as a result of the Malampaya facility shutdown as well as the simultaneous and unscheduled shutdowns of other power plants.
With Malampaya out of service, Meralco claimed it was compelled to source power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) at higher rates.
The Supreme Court (SC) last April extended for the second time the temporary restraining order (TRO) against Meralco Php4.15 per kilowatt-hour rate increase.
In summer session in Baguio City, the justices voted 10-4 to grant the motion of petitioners led by Colmenares and Rep. Isagani Zarate to extend the TRO that also expired Tuesday.
This time, the SC extended the halt order for an indefinite period.
The high court also extended “until further orders” the other TRO enjoining generation companies (Gencos) and power suppliers from demanding and collecting generation charges from Meralco, which the latter failed to pay after the court stopped its Php 4.15 power hike.
The TRO was first issued by the high court on Dec. 23 last year for an initial period of 60 days and extended for another 60 days last February also upon similar plea of petitioners.