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The Energy Regulatory Commission (Erc) may have declared that the six months staggered payments for power bills do not apply to the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) but BENECO took initiatives to tweak some due dates and give its consumers an added reprieve on their power bills.
The ERC on May 22 said that electricity consumers can pay their bills that fell due during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) periods in six equal monthly installments if their consumption is 200 kilowatt hours (kwh) and below in February.
For those who used 200 kwh and above, they will be allowed to amortize their bills in four equal monthly installments.
But on June 3, the ERC said that the six months advisory is only applicable to the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), Visayan Electric Company (Veco) and the First Laguna Electric Cooperative (Fleco). The commission said it gave the three firms a six months period since they were still under modified Ecq until May 31.
Agnes Devanadera, Erc chair, said “only the four months staggered payments shall be applied” to the other electric cooperatives and distribution utilities.
This means that regardless of the consumption, as long as the customer’s bill fell due from March 16 until May 15, 2020, the consumer can opt to pay in four months with the first installment to be paid not earlier than June 15.
Beneco told the city council in one of their sessions last month that BENECO fully supported the council’s resolution calling for a six month moratorium on all payments due to public utilities, citing the ERC advisory on six months installment.
But the electric cooperative did not push through with the said installment when the ERC said the advisory only applies to Meralco, Veco and Fleco.
Left out of the six months installment, BENECO, through Melchor Licoben, the newly designated officer in charge (OIC) general manager, issued a memorandum that the bills due for March, April and May will be paid in four
equal monthly installments with the first installment to coincide with the due date for the June, 2020 bill.
But the bills due for June will also be given a grace period of thirty days, meaning consumers can pay their bills thirty days from the date of reading instead of the usual ten day period to pay.
Surcharges and other penalties will not also be imposed.
BENECO’s consumers are now advised to take note of the following:
(1)Bills that fell due during the ECQ (March 16-April 30, 2020) and GCQ (May 1 – May 15) can be paid in four monthly equal installments; (2)The first installment must be paid when the due date of the current bill in June arrives; (3)Bills that will fall due in June will be given a 30 day grace period to pay from the date of reading;
Here’s how it works: A consumer’s meter was read on June 10. The bill should be paid on June 20 following the ten day rule of the Erc. But following BENECO’s own advisory, the bill is further given a grace period of 30 days, meaning the bill can be paid until July 10.
Meanwhile, the first installment for the bills that fell due during the ECQ and GCQ periods must be paid when the current bills for June become due. Thus, if the meter was read on June 10, the first installment must be paid on or before July 10 since the payment of the first installment must coincide with the due date of the current bill in June which is 30 days later from date of actual reading.
By Delmar O. Carino