Thursday, February 13, 2014
Indefinite TRO on Meralco Rate Sought
The Supreme Court (SC) was asked yesterday to extend indefinitely the 60 day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on Manila Electric Company's (MERALCO) Php 4.15 per kilowatt hour increase approved provisionally by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Dec. 9, 2013. In motion the petitioners against the rate increase told the SC that if the 60 day TRO, which will expire on Feb. 21, 2014 is lifted it's immediate impact would be inflation as the rate hike will add billions of Pesos to production costs of manufacturers. If this happens they said prices of goods and services will automatically increase. The SC concluded the other day it's oral arguments on the petitions against the rate increase and the counter petition filed by Meralco. Parties to the cases were given 15 days to file their respective memorandum. The petitioners against the rate increase are Bayan Muna Rep. Colmenares and Rep. Zarate, Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Ilagan and Rep. De Jesus, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Tinio and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Ridon and a group of Meralco consumers led by the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore) with the Federation of Village Associations (FOVA) and the Federation of Las Pinas Homeowners Associations (FOLPHA). Meralco had earlier asked the SC to lift immediately the TRO on it's rate increase. It told the SC that the adjustment on the generation charge was merely passed on to it by the country's power producers which should be blamed for the rate hike. During the Feb. 4, 2014 oral arguments before the SC, Meralco warned of power outages if the TRO is not lifted immediately as it would fail to collect the generation charge due the power producers. It also told the SC that the power producers had threatened to impose high penalties and surcharges for the delay in the payment of generation charges. It also told the SC that the power producers had threatened to impose high penalties and surcharges for the delay in the payment of generation charges. But the petitioners Meralco's warning of outages is baseless because the Dept. of Energy (DOE) had announced there is no under supply of electricity and the supply situation during summer will not result in brownouts.
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