THERE have not been many customers who asked for refund of their quarantine arrears, according to Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

The twin June bills — one for the installment and the other for the monthly bill — caused an apparent confusion to consumers who might be led to fully settle their arrears since mid-March.

Upon prodding by legislators in last month’s Senate energy hearing, the utility giant said it would set up a refund scheme for those who have fully paid their bills incurred during the lockdown months but who wish to pay them in portions.

“The refund option is open to customers. We have seen though that in our business centers the amount of take-up for refund has been low,” said Victor S. Genuino, Meralco’s head of customer retail services and corporate communications.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in its latest advisory ordered all power distributors, among others, to put up a refund scheme for those who wish to pay their lockdown arrears in four to six installments.

To recall, the regulator authorized the installment setup in May as a form of aid to consumers whose livelihoods are affected by the pandemic-induced quarantine policies.

Explaining the low request for refunds, Mr. Genuino said: “I think people are realizing that once these payments have been made already and they have other current bills to pay for, they decide to just keep their payments in already.”

The utility’s customers can still request a refund by presenting valid identification and proof of billing.

Meanwhile, the listed company in July also sent out personalized letters explaining to customers how their bills were computed.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Adam J. Ang