RURAL POWER utilities were ordered to review their compliance with regulations governing billing during the lockdown, the industry association said.

In a statement Sunday, the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca) said it is willing to assist the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in resolving consumer complaints against some utilities over alleged billing irregularities.

“The soonest that we were made aware that there were complaints filed with the commission, we have prompted our member-electric cooperatives to make a reassessment of their compliance with advisories and other issuances from regulatory offices as well as to check if there are pending consumer concerns that remain unacted upon,” Philreca Executive Director Janeene D. Colingan said.

During a recent Senate energy hearing, ERC Chairperson Agnes VST Devanadera revealed that the agency has received more than 47,000 consumer complaints on billing issues.

Philreca said it asked the commission to provide details of the complaints to help it in “calling the attention of the concerned ECs (electric cooperatives) for clarification or action.”

The ERC released an advisory on July 7 ordering the refund of some bill components collected by power utilities during those months that their collections were suspended.

It specifically ordered the refund of the feed-in-tariff allowance (FiT-All), the collection of which was suspended in March and April, as well as collected universal charge-environmental charges in May.

Philreca said electric cooperatives had already printed and issued their bills when the order suspending FiT-All collection was released on April 15.

It said that the rural utilities were able to comply with the May suspension notice for the collection of the environmental charge starting in the June billing month.

“The timing of the release of the advisories makes it impossible to implement the order on the billing period being asked for by the commission. This only adds to the confusion of our member-consumer-owners,” Philreca claimed.

The association told the ERC that it is monitoring all 121 cooperatives for their observance of its advisories since the quarantine was imposed in mid-March. — Adam J. Ang