Understanding Your Energy Bill in the COVID-19 Quarantine

Understanding Your Energy Bill in the COVID-19 Quarantine

If you live in Metro Manila, you are in the group of cities hit hardest by the novel coronavirus, popularly known as COVID-19, quarantine. The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issued an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to begin on March 15, 2020 at midnight. This grounded most of the population, the only exception being those who perform essential services. During this time, many large corporations, including utilities, issued statements on how they will be providing services or what the public can expect from their service throughout the quarantine period.

The Manila Electric Company, commonly known as MERALCO, issued a statement declaring the suspension of meter readings from March 17 until April 30, 2020.  Meters that should have been read during this time will be read in May.  For April billings (or billings that should happen in this time), MERALCO will bill customers the average of the previous three months, and when the meter is read, the difference between that estimated average bill and the actual consumption will be billed in the succeeding month, meaning May.

MERALCO’s website states this as:

“For households with meters scheduled to be read from March 17 to April 30, billing will be estimated on your average consumption for the past 3 months. The difference between the estimated 3 month average and the actual meter read (after ECQ is lifted) will be reflected on your next bill and corresponding charges will be adjusted. You are assured that when all adjustments are made, you pay for only what you consumed.”

They also gave a sample calculation:

The company also issued a statement on their adjusted billing scheme, allowing customers to spread out their payments over the next four months of billing.  This means that the utility bill will only normalise for most in October.

As the company began delivering utility bills in the second week of May, many customers were shocked by their charges, and several news publications covered the people’s reaction, offering explanations on the matter.  Many believed they were going to be getting a discount from the utility company as part of the company’s contribution to the public during the COVID-19 quarantine.  Others simply did not understand how the utility arrived at the amount presented on the bill.  One of the main issues that led to the confusion is a lack of understanding on how to read an electric bill from MERALCO.  Although the company explains it quite succinctly on their website.

Confusion aside, nothing changes the fact that the power rates are incredibly high, still one of the highest in the world.  For a country that benefits from so much sunlight and other natural resources, the use of traditional forms of power versus renewable energy sources is nonsensical.  If the electric utility was sourcing power from renewables, chances are that they will be able to lower their rates and be of better service to their customers, especially during a time of pandemic or crisis.

As people come to terms with their current electric bills and the fact that they will be paying higher for electricity for the next four months even if they will begin consuming less, the draw towards renewable energy, such as solar power, hydroelectric power, or geothermal energy is bigger than ever.  These technologies have become incredibly reliable, not to mention popular due to the fact that they will help aid the planet as it fights against global warming, an issue that–strangely–the COVID-19 pandemic has helped in a major way by reducing the amount of carbon emissions in the planet.

Curious about solar power and care to rebuild the planet in a more sustainable way? Click on our Get a Quote Button on the upper right hand of the page or visit the Solar Shop to see if solar is right for you!

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