Issue of March 22, 2020
Mt. Province
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Consumers have 30 days to settle bills from due date
by Delmar O. Cariño

The Benguet Electric Cooperative will not collect arrears from its consumers who will fail to pay their electric bills on their due date due to the quarantine being enforced in Luzon.

Those covered are consumers whose power bills must be paid from March 15 to April 14 only. They are also given 30 days from due date to pay.

The Department of Energy and the National Electrification Administration earlier issued separate orders directing all distribution utilities throughout the country to give their consumers a 30-day extension for bills falling due from March 15 to April 14.

Beneco has also decided to stop the reading of electric meters in some areas to avoid travels and lessen the contact between the meter readers and member-consumers.

The electric cooperative will instead use the estimated billing scheme to determine the bill to be paid by the consumers.

In this scheme, the average electric consumption for the last three months will be computed to find out the amount to be paid in lieu of the issuance of the regular monthly bill.

The estimated bills will be immediately served to consumers after April 14 and they are also given an allowance of 30 days to settle their bills.

The Distribution Services and Open Access Rules issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission allows the use of estimated billing when the distribution utility is unable to read the kilowatt hour meters of the consumers due to force majeure.

Force majeure refers to events that are unforeseen and cannot be anticipated or controlled.

Consumers who wish to pay their bills even without receipt of their bill, however, could proceed to Beneco collection offices.

As of press time, only the payment centers at the Beneco headquarters in South Drive and Km. 4 in La Trinidad, Benguet are open.

The accredited collection centers in the city’s barangays and those in Benguet were not advised to close but their operations would depend on the advisory of the local government units.

Despite the quarantine, Beneco will still ensure the deli-very of electric services particularly to “critical load areas” such as hospitals, medical and health institutions, government offices, basic utility service providers (water and communication), disaster reduction offices, and military and police detachments.

Engr. Ramel Rifani, Network Services Department manager, has reactivated Beneco’s emergency restoration protocol to address any eventuality.

“We have already readied our strategic response plan, which we have to balance with the need to curtail the massive deployment of our linemen to help avoid the spread of the virus,” he said.

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