February 2, 2023

The Benguet Electric Cooperative will continue to adjust the electric bills of consumer-members as a result of the “estimates” done during the community quarantine.
“Admittedly, until now, there are a lot of questions on the bill and we are trying to address them individually. We are looking at the actual ledger, and if the system will show the actual usage), we will adjust,” said Institutional Services Department Manager Delmar Cariño.
Cariño was the speaker during the seminar that tackled, among other things, the unbundling of electric rates, which is one of the activities initiated in observance of the National Electrification Awareness month.
He said that excess payments are not returned to the consumer-member but are credited to the succeeding bill.
Beneco has 120,000 consumer-members.
Cariño said the issues on incorrect billing statements and overcharged electric bills have made headlines on national media but he assured that they are doing their best considering the situation and safety of their people.
“We are trying our very best to read (the electric meters) which we already started on the latter part of May and until now,” he said.
He said that considering the safety of the employees who read the electric meters and who also double as bill distributors, meter reading in areas declared by the local government units under lockdown are suspended until the declarations are lifted. This is the reason why there are times the billing period exceeds the allowable30 days.
“Sunud-sunod ang lockdown. Sabi ng Energy Regulatory Commission, actual reading, but we have consulted management, we have consulted the safety officers, hindi kami magbabasa kung naka-lockdown ang lugar,” he said.
The lawyer said that based on the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) and ERC regulations, electric meters should be read within 30 days but in case there is failure to do it due to valid reasons like the implementation of an enhanced community quarantine, the distribution utilities are allowed to make an estimate based on the average of three months meter reading periods.
He said that while the March and April electric consumption were just estimates, adjustments were done based on the actual reading.
Lanie Aquino, a resident of Barangay Irisan, said they did not receive their electric bill for March and April but knowing that later on they will have to pay, they opted to pay through the payment centers. When they received their bills, it already reflected the money they paid and they had a negative balance account.
She said the excess payment was credited to their next bill.
Wanting to know the consumption as against the payments done to allay questions, Aquino said she proceeded to the Beneco office for verification and she was shown the ledger, allowing her to see the actual situation. – PNA release