Lawmaker to ask SC to stop Meralco power rate hike

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Monday, December 16, 2013

A MEMBER of the House of Representatives said they will file a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in the Supreme Court on Tuesday against the power rate hike of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares said the petition aims to stop Meralco from collecting additional electricity charges for the months of December, January and March.

He said they were not convinced and satisfied by the decision of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on the Meralco's rate hike petition, citing the commission's alleged failure to look into the possibility of collusion among power plants that shut down almost simultaneously last month that resulted in Meralco's increase in power rate.

The lawmaker said he will push for deeper investigation on the issue.

Meanwhile, ERC chairperson Zenaida Cruz-Ducut skipped the hearing of the House committee on energy on the power rate hike for the second time on Monday. Instead, Ducut sent her representative to the hearing.

Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, committee on energy chair, expressed his disappointment over the ERC chief's continued absence at the hearing, telling her representative to relay to Ducut the issues that had been tackled.

"Sana naman sa susunod makarating na siya at hindi sana maapektuhan ng ibang issue ang usapin tungkol sa pag-apruba niya ng power hike," he said.

On Monday, the ERC approved the request of Meralco to collect additional P4.15 per kilowatt hour from the consumers to make up for the additional cost Meralco shouldered since the Malampaya power plant shutdown and they have to get power supply from other power plant.

Meanwhile, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) said that more than 50 percent of the power supplies in towns affected by the killer typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) were fully restored.

Sonia San Diego, NEA deputy administrator for corporate resources, said that out of 133 towns where power supply was destroyed, 89 were fully restored, 12 are still in the process for restoration while 32 towns were ready to receive power supply.

San Diego added that there have been houses, which are not yet ready to receive power supply due to busted circuits.

To address the issue, NEA sent a report to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management (NDRRMC) asking for help to cover repair of electric circuits in residential units.

The NEA formed "Task Force Kapatid," which consists of 1000 technical people, including members from 70 electric cooperatives and 11 industry players like Meralco.

However, Umali said that they are hoping that electric supply will be restored just in time for Christmas. (Sunnex)

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