CA reverses ERC's P1.4-B refund order vs SFELAPCO

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Court of Appeals (CA) has overturned the decision of Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) ordering the San Fernando Electric Light and Power Co. (SFELAPCO) to refund some P1.4-billion to its customers.

In June 2023, ERC directed SFELAPCO to return to its consumers the excess generation charges it collected from January 2013 to December 2022 amounting to P1,769,924,493.39, and ‘other charges’ amounting to P654,397,381.48.

A motion for reconsideration was filed by SFELAPCO but it was subsequently denied by ERC, prompting the power firm to elevate the case to CA.

In its November 30, 2023 decision, the CA's Special 17th Division reversed and set aside the refund order "due to lack of legal and factual basis."

The CA also noted that ERC violated SFELAPCO's right to due process when it ruled on the case.

The appelate court, meanwhile, upheld the ERC’s decision imposing P21,600,000 administrative fine or penalty against the power firm for collecting generation charges from consumers during the period without the commission’s approval.

Mayor Vilma Caluag, who has been pushing for the immediate implementation of refund order, expressed disappointment over the CA's ruling.

"I express deep regret over this decision by the Court of Appeals. Despite the disappointment, it is important to recognize that the ERC's initial decision was a testament to the commitment and relentless efforts made by the local government under my leadership to uphold consumer protection and ensure fair practices in the provision of essential services," the mayor said.

She added that a Motion for Reconsideration was filed by the Solicitor General on behalf of the ERC.

"I remain hopeful that the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Solicitor General on behalf of the ERC will uphold the rights of consumers in the end. Trust is placed in the legal processes, continuing to believe in the pursuit of justice and fairness for the people of San Fernando, Pampanga," Caluag said.

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