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ERC proposes changes in Magna Carta for residential power users

December 12, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – To further uphold the rights of consumers, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is proposing changes in some provisions in the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers.

The proposed amendments include the provisions that identify options, set parameters and/or clarify concerns on: application, transfer of and termination of electric service; liabilities of the house owner in case the applicant is a tenant of the premises sought to be energized; billing and billing errors; and filing of protests.

ERC executive director Francis Saturnino Juan said these amendments stemmed from various complaints lodged at the commission. He said these complaints have prompted the commission to review the existing electricity consumers’ bills of right.

Juan said aside from these proposed amendments, the ERC continues to review the provisions of the Magna Carta to ensure the welfare of electricity consumers, particularly the residential customers.

In explaining the amendment on the application, transfer and termination of electric service, Juan said they have threshed out the issue on the transfer of electric meter.

“There are complaints for instance that when a consumer transferred to a house with remaining electricity bill arrears, they are being asked to settle the bills which they did not consume.  We have done something to address this concern,” he said.

He said on the filing of protests, the ERC amended the guidelines which will allow utility firms to automatically implement a refund on disputed billing errors.

Before, all complaints on erroneous bills will have to pass through the ERC for clearance before a utility firm can act on it.

Pursuant to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, the ERC crafted the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers in June 2004 that spelled out in detail the rights and obligations of residential electricity consumers. Since then, several rules, regulations and policies have been promulgated that indirectly affect residential electricity consumers. The Distribution Services and Open Access Rules (DSOAR) is one of those promulgations. The amendments on Magna Carta will reconcile and harmonize its provisions with those promulgations. –Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star)

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