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Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers

Atty. Maria Corazon C. Gines Consumer Affairs Service Energy Regulatory Commission

Important Dates
• July 4, 2004 – publication of the Magna Carta in the Philippine Star and Manila Times • July 19, 2004 – effectivity of the Magna Carta • November 11, 2004 – publication of the Guidelines to Implement the Provisions of Articles, 7, 8, 14 and 28 of the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers • November 26, 2004 – effectivity of the Guidelines to Implement Articles 7, 8, 14 and 28 of the Magna Carta for Residential

Basic Rights of the Consumers
• To have quality, reliable, affordable, safe, and regular supply of electricity • To be accorded courteous, prompt and nondiscriminatory service by the electric service provider • To be given a transparent, non-discriminatory and reasonable price of electricity • To be an informed customer and given adequate access to information on matters affecting the electric service of the consumer concerned. • To be accorded prompt and speedy resolution of complaints by both the DU and/or ERC • To know and choose the electric service retailer upon the implementation of Retail Competition • To organize themselves into a consumer organization

Basic Obligations
• To observe the terms of his contract including, among others, paying monthly electric bills promptly and honestly • To allow the faithful and accurate recording of consumption to be reflected in the appropriate device • To allow the DU/s employees/representatives access to his premises for purposes allowed by the Magna Carta • To take proper care of metering or other equipment that the utility installed in the customer/s premises • To inform the DU and/or proper authorities of any theft or pilferage of electricity • To cooperate with and support programs on the wise and efficient use of electricity.

Consumer Rights

Right to Electric Service

• Compliance with the DU’s and LGU’s requirements • Undertaking by Owner to be solidarily liable for unpaid regular electric bills incurred by the applicant after leaving the premises

Rights and Obligations re: Bill Deposits
• Applicable to applicants for new and/or additional service • Equivalent to the estimated monthly billing of the applicant • Adjusted yearly • Earn Interest equiv. to that incorporated in the WACC, otherwise, the prevailing interest rate for savings deposit approved by the BSP

Rights and Obligations re: Bill Deposits
• Refunded one month from termination of electric service if all bills were paid • Refund prior to termination – customer pays his monthly bills on or before their due date for 3 consecutive years • After refund, customer defaults – bill deposit is reimposed • No more refund of bill deposit until termination of electric service • Non-payment of reimposed bill deposit – ground for disconnection

Meter Deposits
• New customers are exempted from paying meter deposits • Cost of meters shall be sourced from:
– Rates – for private distribution utilities (Pus) – Reinvesment Fund – for electric cooperatives (ECs)

• Existing customers are entitled to refund • Refund by PUs – starting January 2006 • Refund by ECs – approval of refund scheme by the ERC

Refund of Meter Deposits by ECs
• Refund is last priority in the use of the Reinvestment Fund • No interest for meter deposit refund • Meter deposit refund could be offsetted with outstanding obligations of the customer with the DU

Metering Provisions
• Electric meters including instrument transformers – to be tested and sealed by ERC prior to installation in customers’ premises • Calibrated to as close to zero error as possible, and not merely within tolerable limits • DU to test meters once every 2 years, free of charge

Meter Testing Results
• Meter has stopped without evidence of tampering – DU can recover billing adjustment equivalent to a maximum period of 3 months • Meter is defective without evidence of tampering – DU can recover billing adjustment equivalent to a maximum period of 6 months • Fast meter – Customer can demand refund of overbilling equivalent to a maximum of 6 months

Installation of Meters
• Meter to be installed in a clean place, free of vibration and accessible for reading and testing • Meter can be relocated at the expense of the DU except:
– Request of the customer for reasons other than the foregoing – Failure of the meter to meet the foregoing conditions is due to improvements made by the customer

Right to Prompt Investigation of Complaints • inform customer of action taken within 15 days from receipt of complaints • IDs of DU representatives must be properly and conspicuously displayed

Right to Extension of Lines and Additional Facilities (amended by the DSOAR) • Customer is within 30 meters from DU’s existing secondary low voltage lines • Customer is beyond 30 meters – required to advance cost of extension of lines and additional facilities • Cash Advances to be Refunded, at the option of the customer through:
– Issuance of notes payable – Refund at the rate of 25% of gross distribution revenue derived for the calendar year; or – Purchase of preferred shares, if available

Right to Extension of Lines and Additional Facilities (amended by the DSOAR)

• Cost is funded gratuitously – customer not entitled to refund • Developer initially pays cost of extension and incorporates the same in the cost of the property – customer is entitled to exercise the options for refund of cash advance

Right to Information
• DUs must have:
– Consumer Bulletin Board for posting major announcements/documents – Establish communications facilities, including but not limited to customer hotline and SMS

• Scheduled power interruptions
– Announced through tri-media at least 2 days prior to its occurrence – In remote areas, schedule must be posted along roadsides or infront of entrance to the City/Municipal Hall or Public Market

• Right to Transparent Billing – format prescribed by ERC • Right to a Monthly Billing –
– Month should not be less than 28 days but not to exceed 31 days – Billing period exceeding 31 days allowed only due to fortuitous event – Reading must be done immediately after the fortuitous event

Rules on Disconnection
• Notice prior to disconnection • Grounds for Disconnection:
– – – – Non-payment of electric bills Illegal use of electricity Public safety Upon lawful orders of government agencies and/or courts – Request of the registered customer based on justifiable reasons – Allowing other end-users to be connected to the electric service, whether or not for profit

Rules on Disconnection
• Receipt of Notice of Disconnection
– 48 hours – non-payment of regular monthly bills – 24 hours – illegal use of electricity

• Required Witnesses During Apprehension
– Customer or his authorized representative – ERC representative or Officer of the Law

Grounds for Suspension of Disconnection
• After 3pm on weekdays • Saturdays, Sundays, Official Holidays • Permanent resident is dependent on life support system – maximum of 2 months • Funeral Wake of permanent resident – maximum of 1 month or until interment whichever comes first • Customer indubitably proves he did not receive a Statement of Account or Notice of Disconnection • Customer is billed in a single statement covering several months due to the fault of the DU • Customer or his representative is not around (can only be invoked for disconnections due to illegal use of electricity)

Right to Tender Payment
• Customer tenders payment at the point of disconnection • DU’s representative may accept payment • If DU’s representative refuses to accept payment – customer is given 24 hours to pay • Privilege can only be invoked once for the same unpaid bill

Right to Electric Service Despite Arrearages of Prior Tenant • Arrears of prior tenant • No collusion between the new and former occupants/tenants

Right to Reconnection
• Customer’s service was previously disconnected • Customer has paid his obligations • DU must reconnect electric service within 24 hours • 24 hours may be extended for justifiable reasons

Testing of Tampered Meters
• Suspected tampered meter is placed in a sealed container • Suspected tampered meter is replace by an accurate meter • Sealed container is opened by ERC representative • ERC representative confirms tampering • No disconnection of service until confirmation of tampering by the ERC

• Right to Payment Under Protest
– To suspend disconnection – Privilege to question validity and amount

• Right to File Complaints with ERC
– Prior consultation with CWD Officer

Consumer Obligations
• Obligation to allow inspection, installation & removal of electricity apparatus • Obligation to allow the construction of poles, lines and circuits within the customer’s property upon payment of just compensation • Obligation to pay monthly bills – within 9 days from receipt thereof • Obligation not to commit illegal use of electricity • Obligation to pay differential billing

ERC CONTACT DETAILS
• Main Office:
– Pacific Center Bldg., San Miguel Ave. Pasig – Customer Hotlines: 687-5544/77 – E-mail Address: consumer@erc.gov.ph – Text: ERC <space> message send to 2920