PHASES 2 & 3 OF MERALCO REFUND TO TAKE 5 YEARS

MANILA, OCTOBER 25, 2003  (STAR) By Donnabelle L. Gatdula  - The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has sought the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to implement Phase III and IV of its refund program for two years and five years, respectively.

In the proposed guidelines submitted to the ERC, Meralco said it plans to undertake Phase III from March 2004 to Feb. 2006.

The refund mode for the third phase is through a fixed monthly credit to bill, the amount to be derived by dividing the gross refund amount by 24 months. The refund coverage, gross refund kilowatthour (kwh) and equivalent amount will be reflected in the customerís March 2004 billing, similar to Phase I and II.

The refund period for terminated accounts for Phase III is from March to April 2006. The mode for these particular accounts will be in cash, net of all arrears as in the first two phases of the refund.

For Phase IV of the refund, the Lopez-controlled power firm proposed to conduct it from July 2005 to March 2010. The refund mode is either through a financial instrument incorporating a liquidity mechanism or fixed credit to bills, depending on the gross refund amount.

Meralco said the financial instrument will provide the customer the ability to liquidate their "refund coupons" whenever they want and at the same time, give Meralco the time to recover from its cash flow difficulty and normalize its credit ratings.

The power utility firm said the processing of the refunds through the financial instrument would be completed by June 2004.

It said the procedures and other details on the refund for Phase IV, whether through a financial instrument or check, are to be submitted later.

Based on its cash outlay to support its application for the refund process for Phase III and IV, Meralco said it will be spending about P30.126 billion in the seven-year period. For Phase I, it spent P2.118 billion (June to Dec. 2004); P4.565 billion for Phase III for the period Jan. 2004 to Dec. 2006); P4.914 billion for Phase III (Dec. 2004 to Dec. 2006); and P18.529 billion for Phase IV (Jan. 2005 to May 2010).

Last year, the Supreme Court ordered Meralco to refund to its customers some P30.05-billion worth of overcharges for the period from Feb. 1994 to May 2003.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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