The board of directors of the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) has recalled the controversial billing payment guidelines with 30 percent interest for April it earlier issued, claiming it was a proposal that does not have their approval.
Board chairman Jeffrey Tan-Endriga said Wednesday in an interview with Palawan News that they have nothing to do with the advisory that states about how member-consumers-owners (MCOs) should settle their electric uses for March and April.
He said the advisory posted on the social media page of PALECO on May 4 was only a proposal from the management of the power coop that was still subject to their approval supposedly on May 8.
“Bago mangyari ito, hindi pa ito officially submitted to the board, so wala pang kinalaman ang board dito. This is just a management proposal to the board this coming Friday so hindi pa ito official,” he said.
Endriga said that the PALECO management posted the guidelines without the knowledge of the board.
He said they had already called the attention of the management regarding the post that brought confusion to the MCOs in the city and province.
READ RELATED STORY: PALECO issues guidelines for bills payment
Endriga explained the post reached his knowledge only after complaints and negative reactions were posted on social media on Monday by angry MCOs. He did not specify who was responsible for posting the unapproved guidelines.
“Actually, pinagalitan ko sila. Sabi ko, ‘alam niyo ba ang prinsipyo ng nauna ang kalesa sa kabayo? Ganoon ang ginawa niyo. Hindi dapat kayo nagde-desisyon without the approval ng board dahil iyan ang protocol natin’,” he said.
Endriga said the PALECO management explained to him that it only tried to apply the guidelines issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) which was to get the average billing of the past three months before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was implemented in March.
To help the MCOs of PALECO, Endriga said the management came up with a proposal of getting the average billing of the past six months (September 2019 to February 2020) instead of just the three months as suggested by the ERC.
“Kung titingnan mo, ang January at December ay panahon iyan ng okasyon, panahon iyan ng holidays, panahon ng Christmas at New Year — mataas ang konsumo dyan. Kung i-a-average natin yan, hindi siya makatarungan,” he said.
“Ang ginawa ng management ay ginawang six months averaging para maging fair sa ating MCOs. Initially, iyon ang proposal nila instead of three months na malaki ang epekto sa MCOs natin, ginawang six months,” Endriga added.
Endriga explained that referring to the initial guidelines released, the average consumption of residential consumers will be determined from the average consumption starting from September 2019 to February 2020.
The average billing of those six months will be billed for the month of March.
While for the billing of April, the proposal of the management is to get the average billing of September 2019 to February 2020 plus 30 percent of its average.
“Iyong 30 percent, tiyak ng kooperatiba natin na sapat ito kasi kung titingnan mo ang average ng usual time na walang ECQ, ang mga tao ay may trabaho, di naman buong araw na nasa bahay. Medyo mababa lang ang konsumo nila unlike nitong ECQ,” Endriga said.
“Nagdagdag tayo ng 30 percent sa April dahil sa month of May, babalik tayo sa actual billing so ang difference ng March at April ay mag-a-accumulate sa month ng May. Sigurado tayo lalaki ‘yan kasi lahat ng tao ay nandyan sa bahay nila,” he added.
The actual consumption within the months of March and April will be amortized in four months or from May to August based on the advisory of ERC.
“Ngayon ang mahirap pa dito, ang May ay kailangan bayaran mo siya one-time payment. Ang ginawa natin, para mahati ang month of May, tinanggal natin ang 30 percent. Supposed to be na mapunta sa May, isinama na natin sa April para itong March at April ay mahati ito ng four months,” he said.
“Pabor na pabor ito sa consumer, ang problema lang kasi ay hindi ito na-explain nang maayos,” he said.
Payment applicable to residential and commercial consumers
Endriga highlighted that the proposed billing guideline is applicable to residential consumers. While he said that PALECO will have an actual reading for commercial consumers for March and April.
He said that the proposed billing guidelines of the management is aligned with the advisory of the ERC, providing discretion to distribution utilities (DUs) to have a better program that will lessen the burden of the MCOs.
“Sa commercial ay we will conduct an actual billing para kung ano lang [yong consumption] kasi walang operations katulad ng hotels, malls, mga pension house, mga tindahan, definitely ay bagsak ang konsumo nila at unfair naman sa kanila na magbabayad sila ng average bill,” he said.
New ERC advisory
However, Endriga said that there will be changes with the guidelines as the ERC already released a new advisory on May 5, which the board will discuss on May 8.
“Pero ganito, mababago ‘yan kasi kahapon lang ay may bagong issue ang ERC. Itong programa na gusto natin gawin para makatulong sa MCOs, masu-supersede ito ng bagong guidelines ng ERC,” he said.
“Meron silang guidelines na inilabas, meaning ay babaguhin na naman ng management yong proposal then this coming Friday ay magka-conduct kami ng board meeting para pag-usapan iyan at i-adapt kasi naka-generalize na naman siya,” Endriga explained further.
Endriga said that the new advisory of the ERC is broad and did not state specific guidelines applicable for residential, commercial, and industrial consumers.
He said that PALECO still needs to interpret the new advisory released by ERC on Tuesday.
Based on No. 5 in the advisory, to ensure the safety of meter readers and to comply with physical distancing, the use of estimated billing will be implemented pursuant to Section 3.5.4 of the Distribution Services and Open Access Rules (DSOAR).
“Provided that the word “estimate” be clearly written on the consumer bill and the corresponding adjustments are made soon as practicable. The billing estimate should be based on the average of the consumers’ billing of three months immediately preceding the ECQ,” according to ERC advisory.
“Ang worry ko nga dito, specific na naman ang sinasabi nila, three months. Kapag sinabi mo na three months, tiyak tataas iyan. Sa mga panahon ay galante ang mga tao, patugtog ng sounds, pailaw ng Christmas lights umaabot ang madaling-araw,” Endriga said.