Solons to SC: Don't let gencos collect from Meralco yet
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers on Monday, January 13, filed an amended petition before the Supreme Court (SC), seeking to restrain generation companies from imposing and collecting fines from the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) until the issue of power rate increases has been resolved.
Congressmen belonging to the Makabayan bloc in December got the High Court to issue a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the record-high rate rate increase that Meralco was set to impose on its subscribers from December 2013 to March 2014.
However, on Thursday, January 9, the court ruled to include Phililippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) and 6 other power firms as respondents in the case. Meralco has claims that the charges it passes on to its subscribers are based on what these companies charge it.
The SC will hold its oral argument on the power rate hike on January 21.
"The previous TRO must be completed by an order from this Honorable Court temporarily restraining GENCOs from collecting the generation charge pending the resolution of this Petition," the lawmakers' amended petition said.
The Makabayan bloc on December 19 filed a petition before the SC which sought for a TRO on the P4.15 per kilowatt hour by Meralco. The group, however, only named Meralco and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as respondents at that time.
In its amended complaint, the group has included as respondents spot market operator PEMC and the following generation companies:
- SEM- CALACA Power Corporation
- Masinloc Power Partners Corporation
- Therma Luzon Incorporated
- San Miguel Energy Corporation
- South Premier Power Corporation
- Therma Mobile Incorporated
Threat to the public
The leftist lawmakers asserted that the imposition of fines on Meralco by generation companies for non-payment of its bill will burden the public.
“Since generation charge is an unjustly automatic pass through charge to the public, the pressure and threats of legal action and high interest penalties by these GENCOs on Meralco for the payment of the generation charge is actually a threat and pressure to Petitioners and the public,” the petitioners said.
They added, “Should respondent Meralco give in to these GENCO’s payment demands, it is the Petitioners and the public who will suffer grave and irreparable injury because said imposition will merely be passed through to the public.”
Meralco earlier warned that a prolonged suspension of the rate hike will result to the default of the firm on its obligations to its power suppliers. This could lead to massive brownouts should its creditors stop supplying power to the distribution utility, Meralco said. – Rappler.com