SUPREME  COURT  TO  MERALCO:  EXPLAIN  RATE  HIKE

MANILA
, July 6 , 2004
 (STAR)
The Supreme Court has ordered the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the country’s largest power retailer, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), to justify the increase in generation rates by 13.27 centavos per kilowatt-hour.

The ERC and Meralco have 10 days to reply to a petition filed by the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, Federation of Village Associations and Federation of Las Piñas Homeowners Associations.

The petitioners claimed the ERC’s approval of Meralco’s rate increase was illegal, saying it violated the electric power industry reform law.

The ERC purportedly violated procedures by not holding a public hearing or consult with consumers’ groups before it approved Meralco’s rate increase petition last June 2.

The rate increase petition was also not published in a newspaper of general circulation or presented to local governments for comment as required by law, the groups added.

"Obviously the requirements are aimed at protecting consumers and diminishing the disparity or imbalance between the utility firm and consumers" and the public should be given an opportunity to comment or contest applications for power rate increases, they said.

Meralco, which supplies power to about four million homes and businesses in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, filed its petition for a rate increase on March 9. — Aurea Calica


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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