House seeks probe into ‘unexplainable surge’ in power bills amid pandemic

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THE House of Representatives will investigate the “unexplainable surge” in electricity rates.

Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, along with other House leaders, filed House Resolution 953, which seeks to investigate the Energy Regulation Commission’s (ERC) approval to raise transmission charges of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

In the resolution, the lawmakers pointed out that the ERC’s decision last February 13 to increase the interim Maximum Allowable Revenue (MAR) of NGCP by P3.3 billion for 2020 from P43.8 billion to P47.1 billion “cannot be justified and will bring further hardships to the millions of ordinary consumers who will shoulder the higher cost of electricity.”

The MAR is the fixed revenue due the NGCP regardless of the level of consumption of electricity, making it a fixed cost charged to power consumers and added to their monthly electricity bills.

The lawmakers said that while the NGCP reported 25 percent to 30 percent decrease in electricity demand during the community quarantine, the transmission rate was still expected to increase by 33 percent to 43 percent due to the MAR hike.

“It is unjust and unconscionable that the consumers will pay an even higher transmission rate when millions have lost their income and are struggling to survive,” the lawmakers said.

“The additional P3.3 billion in NGCP’s interim MAR granted by ERC will further increase the burden of consumers during this very uncertain period of pandemic as there is no certainty yet that a vaccine will be available soon,” they added.

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