dispelled reports that it overcharged customers in 2004 and 2007, saying its rates were approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
“We maintain that we did not overcharge,” Meralco president Jose de Jesus said. “Our unbundled rates were duly approved by the ERC in 2003 after extensive evaluation by the commission of the property we use and the expenses we incur in providing electricity service.” VP and utility economics head Ivanna de la Peña noted that only actual costs incurred and assets “used and useful” in delivering service in the year 2000 were incorporated in the ERC-approved unbundled rates.
“The rates were not adjusted for any incremental costs/assets after 2000. Thus, none of these incremental costs were passed on to consumers,” she said. Year 2000 was the test year for the rate unbundling applications of all distribution utilities. De Jesus assured the public that the Meralco board of directors and its officials, both past and present, have always exercised prudence in their decisions, particularly with regard to those that directly affect customers. He also cautioned against premature judgment and speculations which could raise undue expectations by consumers of a refund.
A Commission on Audit (COA) report had earlier claimed that the utility committed overcharging by including unnecessary expenses, property and equipment in its rate adjustment approved by the ERC in 2003. The report further stated that its findings were merely recommendatory to the ERC. The ERC remains the sole arbiter to decide on the issue, with its competence to rule on these technical matters upheld by the Supreme Court.