The power bills of members, consumers, and owners (MCOs) of the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) for March and April will be estimated based on their consumption for the months of December 2019 to February 2020 and January to March 2020, respectively.
PALECO human resource head and admin manager Napoleon Cortez said in a press conference Saturday this new billing payment scheme was based on the guidelines issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on May 5.
Cortez said that the bill estimate for the month of March will be based on the average of the consumer’s billing starting from December 2019 to February 2020. The billing for April, on the other hand, will be estimated based on the average consumption from January to March 2020.
He said the scheme computes the average electric consumption for the last three months to get the amount to be paid by the MCOs in lieu of the issuance of the regular monthly bill.
“Ito ay sinunod ng lahat ng electric utilities sa buong Pilipinas dahil ito ay guidelines na galing sa ERC. Ang purpose nito, tingin namin kaya nila ito inilabas, para tulong sa consumers na hindi sila mabigatan o mag-amortize o magbayad ng kanilang electric bill [ng malaki agad],” he said.
Based on the advisory, the use of estimated billing is pursuant to Section 3.5.4 of the Distribution Service and Open Access Rules (DSOAR) to ensure the safety of meter readers and to comply with the physical distancing directive to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The ERC said this is provided that the word “estimate” be clearly written on the consumer bill and the corresponding adjustments are made as soon as possible.
The total amount due to the actual consumption in March and April, which are months under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), will be amortized in four months starting May to August.
Cortez said the formula to get the current consumption is present reading less the previous.
“Halimbawa ang December mo, ang reading sa metro mo ay, halimbawa nagpakabit ka ng metro sa November para mabilis, zero ang reading mo. December nagkaroon ka ng reading na 100, automatic ang consumption mo sa December ay 100-kilowatt hour,” he said.
“Ngayon ang January nag-reading, ang na-read halimbawa ay 150, 150 less 100 ay 50. Ibig sabihin ang consumption mo sa January ay 50-kilowatt hour. Nag-reading ng February, ang nakalagay ay 250-kilowatt hour, 250 less 150, ang konsumo mo ay 100-kilowatt hour. Ang sabi sa March ang gagawin ay i-add mo ang December, January, February na consumption mo — 100 plus 50 plus 100 equals 250, divided by three ay 83. Therefore, ang sabi ng rules — 250 plus 83, 333 ang reading mo ng March, imaginary [reading],” Cortez added.
He said that based on rules, the reading for April is the average of January, February, and March. If added to 50 plus 100 and 83, divided by three again.
Actual meter reading and promissory notes
Starting May, PALECO will resume meter readings and the billings will be based on actual consumption.
PALECO said MCOs who had already received their billing statements and paid them will get adjustments once actual readings start again. They could also go to PALECO to have their April statements adjusted.
The bills that have not been delivered yet for March and April will be sent together with the monthly billing consumption for May, said Leah Sandoval of the PALECO finance services department (FSD).
“Kapag nagkaroon tayo ng actual reading sa May ay isasabay namin lahat ng bill na pending para isahang deliver kasi hindi natin magagawa na i-deliver muna natin ang March and April gawa ng limited ang tao natin. Definitely paglabas natin ng billing ng May, isasabay natin ‘yong March and April,” Sandoval said.
Lolita Carbonell, PALECO FSD manager, said they might consider accepting promissory notes from MCOs so there will be a “win-win” situation for both parties.
“Kailangan din kasi natin makakolekta kasi kapag hindi rin kami nakakolekta, wala rin kami ibabayad sa independent power producers (IPPs) namin. Hinahabol din namin yong prompt payment discount kaya sisiguraduhin din namin na makapag-generate kami ng collection at para makapag-ipon ng pambayad sa IPPs at ma-avail din namin ‘yong discount,” Carbonell said.
She said what they followed was “imaginary reading” because they will not be able to get the previous and present readings if they will not do it.
Carbonell said this is the reason why some have electric meter readings.
The DSOAR issued by the ERC allows the employment of estimated billing or imaginary reading when the distribution utility is unable to read the kilowatt-hour meters of the consumers due to force majeure.
“Itong ini-explain namin, iyan ay imaginary reading kaya marami ang nagtatanong, may reading ako bakit sabi niyo hindi kayo nag-reading ng Abril. Kung mapapansin [niyo], kasi baka may naco-confuse, para ipaalam na ang ginawang figure ng present and previous is imaginary reading. Saan nanggaling? Doon sa kilowatt use. Kasi paano namin makukuha yong present at previous kung hindi kami gagawa ng imaginary reading?” she said.
Endriga also said that even if the total of actual consumptions for March and April will be amortized in four months, the MCOs can pay this in the last month if they want to.
“Yong four months installment, puwede mo ng last month bayaran ng buo just in case na kulang ka talaga kasi hindi naman nakalagay dito na monthly mo siya kailangang bayaran. Ang nakalagay dito ay within four months ay [dapat] ma-settle mo siya,” he said.
Previous billing scheme explained
During the press conference, Endriga said the previous billing scheme was meant to help the MCOs. He said they were considering different schemes for residential, commercial, and those that use big loads to ease their burdens.
“Before nga ang desisiyon ng board — ikukuwento ko lang sa inyo — dalawa kasi ang pagri-rate natin supposed to be. Dapat sa residential ay averaging ang i-a-apply, then for commercial and big loads ay actual sana. Pero dahil lumabas nga ito noong May 5 ay nabalewala ang intention ng board na makatulong ng mas maganda sa ating mga consumer kaya nag-decide na lang kami na sundin na lang ito… as is ‘yong ruling ng ERC,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sandoval said PALECO’s online payment scheme remains under negotiation with other collection partners such as banks to avoid long queues and maintain social distancing.
She said they are just fixing some online issues before this can happen.
“Sa ngayon ay ni-negotiate na namin with other collection partners katulad ng banks. Nagkakaroon lang kami ng medyo technical issue with the online payments,” Sandoval said.