MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) told its electricity customers on Friday that it deferred physical meter reading and bill delivery as Luzon is currently under an enhanced community quarantine to contain the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus disease 2019).

Customers whose meters are scheduled to be read between March 17 to April 14, the monthly bill will be based on their average electricity usage for the past three months as per the advice of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

“The difference will be reflected on your next bill and corresponding charges will be adjusted,” Meralco’s advisory read.

On Monday, the distribution utility announced a 30-day payment extension for bills due from March 1 to April 14, as it assured its customers of its unimpeded services for the duration of the Luzon-wide total lockdown.

The Department of Energy (DoE) also asked all energy sector stakeholders to defer the payment of obligations and dues by customers by 30 days or until after the lockdown period ends on April 14.

The National Electrification Administration on Thursday also asked the 121 electric cooperatives operating mainly in rural areas across the country to also extend the deadline for customers’ bill payments by up to 30 days.

As businesses shut their operations at this time, the DoE noted in its latest monitoring of power supply that electricity demand fell by about 30%.

“The primordial concern right now is to defeat the (COVID-19) crisis,” DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in a statement on late Wednesday. — Adam J. Ang