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Member consumers of the Benguet Electric Cooperative (Beneco) should get used anew to paying their bills within ten (10) days to avoid surcharges of 10% of the bill and possible disconnection.
The 10 day grace period is provided under the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
Melchor Licoben, general manager, said the move was meant to increase the electric cooperative’s collection efficiency that has adversely affected Beneco’s ability to pay the cost of power supplied by Team Energy.
Beneco has a power supply contract with Team, a generation company, until 2024.
Licoben, an engineer, allayed fears of consumers that they are being billed twice a month, saying that the reversion to the 10 day due date could have caught up within the same reading cycle.
The ERC in March, 2020 extended the 10 day period to 30 days for all meters read until April 30, 2020.
The ERC also allowed consumers to pay their bills in four equal installments where the last installment was supposed to have been paid in full in August, 2020. The commission said the ten day due period will resume for the Sept., 2020 billing.
But Licoben said Beneco has decided to give more paying time to its member consumers by extending further the due date of the bills despite the ERC’s go signal that electric cooperatives can now revert to the 10 day due date in September, 2020.
“That’s why I decided to still extend the due date for paying bills to 30 days until January, 2021 instead of using the usual ten day period to pay,” he said, adding that this is Beneco’s way of helping the consumers who are still reeling from the pandemic.
“Then we reduced the extension to 20 days from Feb., 2021 to July, 2021. In August, 2021, we decided to revert to the usual 10 day period,” Licoben explained.
Licoben’s decision to tweak the due dates of paying bills meant that Beneco’s member consumers enjoyed an extended reprieve of 30 days from Sept., 2020 until January, 2021 and another 20 day extension from Feb., 2021 until July, 2021.
In August, 2021, Beneco reverted to the 10 day due date.
Rocky Pallogan, non-network services department manager, said much as the electric cooperative would still like to relax the 10 day due date, Beneco has also to pay its obligations not only to its power supplier but also its suppliers of materials, fuel, security services and loans.
“We believe that we have helped much our member consumers during those months that we extended the 10 day period to pay,” Pallogan said.