SC asked anew to extend TRO on power rate hike

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MILITANT lawmakers called for another extension on Tuesday to the Supreme Court’s (SC) temporary restraining order on the record-high generation charge to be passed on to the consumers of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

In an eight-page urgent motion, the Makabayan bloc said Meralco, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and power plants should be prevented from causing “grave and irreparable injury” to some five million electricity customers in Metro Manila and parts of Luzon.

"Restraining Meralco and the generation companies from collecting the assailed incredible price hike does not actually deprive them of profit; but will merely deprive them of huge windfall profits that is a product of illegal collusion, anti-competitive behavior and abuse of market power," according to the motion filed by party-list representatives from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, ACT, and Kabataan.

Among the issues that petitioners have assailed before the SC is the ERC's rule that allows Meralco to impose the generation cost as an automatic pass-through charge to its customers. This was the ERC's basis for allowing Meralco to come up with an unprecedented P4.15 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate hike last December.

The Court blocked the implementation of the rate hike through a 60-day TRO on December 23, 2013 which was extended in February 18 for another two months or until April 22.

The expiration of the stay order coincidentally falls on the summer session of the 15-member SC in Baguio City. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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