SC affirms ERC 2013 order allowing Meralco to impose rate hike

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THE Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) last 2013 that allows the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) to charge customers more than P22 billion in recovery costs.

In a close 6-5 decision, the High Court junked the petitions of Bayan Muna and National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (NASECO) against the ERC.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez and promulgated last August 3, 2021 but was only uploaded to the SC website only last July 1, 2022.

The High Court sad they did not see on the ERC any “grave abuse of discretion” when it allowed to charge a “staggered power rate increase” on its consumers worth P22.64 billion of generation or recovery cost.

The rate hike stemmed from the shutdown of Shell Philippines Exploration-Malampaya, and maintenance of other power generation plants.

The Supreme Court explained that the approval was in accordance with the Guidelines for the Automatic Adjustment of Generation Rate and System Loss Rates by Distribution or AGRA Rules, and the ERC only moved within the bounds of its authority.

The Meralco rate hike was not implemented in the previous years due to a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court.

When asked for comment on the SC decision, former Bayanmuna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate warned that this will be the “highest power rate hike” in the history in case it it implemented.

Also, Zarate said this means more Filipinos will suffer in the midst of a pandemic and continued rising prices of basic goods, commodities, petroleum products and services.

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