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Shella Mae Laqui

on 18 November 2012

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MAGNA CARTA FOR RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICITY CONSUMERS Pursuant to the provisions of Sections 41 of form Act, the Energy Regulatory Republic Act No. 9136, otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Regulatory Commission hereby promulgates the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers as adopted in a Resolution by the Commission on June 9, 2004. I II III Chapter 1: General Provisions 1 2 3 4 5 Article 1: Title THIS RESOLUTION SHALL KNOWN AS THE MAGNA CARTA RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICITY CONSUMERS. Definition of Terms Bill Deposit
shall mean the deposit required from customers by distribution utilities of new and/or additional service equivalent to the estimated billing for one month to guarantee payment of bills Billing Adjustment
shall mean the amount charged to the consumer for the unbilled electricity consumed resulting from a stoppage or defect, conspicuous or otherwise, in the meter, provided that there is no evidence of tampering thereon; Connection Point
shall mean the point of connection of the user system or requirement to the distribution system (for users of the distribution system) or to the grid (for users of the grid) Consumer or Customer or End-user
shall mean any person who is the registered customer of the electric utility being supplied with electricity by the registered customer to occupy the premises and enjoy electric service; Distribution Utility
shall mean any electric cooperative, Private Corporation, government-owned utility or existing local government unit which has an exclusive franchise or is authorized by law to distribute electricity to end-users; Differential Billing
shall mean the amount charged to the consumer for the unbilled electricity illegaly consumed as determined through the use of methodologies prescribed by law. It is determined by multiplying the unbilled consumption in kWh, the period covered and the current rate of electricity at the time of apprehension; Energy Regulatory Commission or Commission or ERC
shall mean the independent regulatory agency created under Republic Act No. 9136, otherwise known as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA); Month
Shall mean the elapsed time between two succeeding meter readings, atleast twenty-eight (28) days apart but not to exceed thirty one (31) days. An Officer of the Law
shall refer to any person who, by direct provision of law or by appointment by competent authority, is charged with maintenance of public order and the protection and security of life and property, such as barangay captain/chairman, barangay councilman, barangay leader, officer or member of BarangayCommunity Brigades, barangay policeman, PNP policeman, municipal councillor, municipal mayor and provincial fiscal. A Registered consumer
shall mean the customer who has valid service contract with the electric distribution utility. Residential consumer
shall mean a customer classied as such in the distribution utility’s rate as approved by the ERC Applicability this Magna Carta shall only apply to residential consumers. Basic Rights all consumers shall be entitled to the following basic rights A. To have quality, reliable, affordable, safe, and regular supply electric power; B. To be accordance courteous, prompt and non-discriminatory service by the electric service provider; C. To be given a transparent, non-discriminatory and reasonable price of electricity consistent with the provisions of RA 9136; D. To be an informed electric consumer and given adequate access to information on matters affecting service of the consumer concerned E. To be accorded prompt and speedy resolution of complaints by both the distribution utility and/or the ERC; F. To know and choose the electric service retailer upon implementation of Retail Competition; and G. To organize themselves as a consumer organization in the franchise area where they belong and where they are served by the distribution utility or as a network of organizations. Basic Obligations every consumer must comply with the following obligations and responsibilities A. To observe the terms of his contract including among other things, paying monthly electricity bills promptly and honestly; B. To allow the faithful and accurate recording of consumption to be reflected in the appropriate device; C. To allow the utility’s employee/representatives entry/access to his premises for the purposes provide in Article 29 hereof; D. To take proper care of metering or other equipment that the electric utility has installed In his premises E. To inform the distribution utility and/or proper authorities of any theft or pilferage of electricity or any damage caused by any person to the electric meter and equipment appurtenant thereto; F. To cooperate with and support programs on the wise and efficient use of electricity. Consumer Rights Article VI: Right to Electric Service A consumer has to be connected to a distribution utility for electric service after the consumer’s full compliance with distribution utility’s and local government unit’s (LGU) requirements. If the said consumer is not the owner of the premises sought to be energize, he shall be required to submit an undertaking from the owner if the premises that the said owned be jointly and severally liable with the applicant for any unpaid regular monthly bills incurred by the applicant after leaving the premises, in the absence of or insufficiency of the bill deposit. Subject to the approval of ERC, a distribution which cannot service areas within its franchise territory may allow another distribution utility or qualified third party (QTP) to provide electricity services in said area pursuant to Rule 7 and Rule 14 of the implementing Rules and Regulations of the EPIRA. The labor cost for connecting the distribution utility’s service drop to the connection point shall be free of charge. The connection point shall be designated upon agreement by the distribution utility and consumer. Article VII: Right to a Refund of Bill Deposits The bill deposit provided for under Article 28 hereof shall be refunded within one month from the termination of service provided all bills have been paid. A customer who has paid his electric bills on or before its due date for three (3) consecutive years may, however, demand for full refund of the deposit even prior to the termination of his service. An application for this purpose shall be filed with the concerned distribution utility which must refund the deposit within one month from receipt of such application. Article VIII: Exemption from Payment of Meter Deposits All consumers shall be exempt from payment of meter deposits since private distribution utilities have incorporated the cost of the electric watthour meters in their rate base. Electric cooperatives shall use their respective Reinvestment Funds to produce electric watthour meters for their consumers. In cases of loss and/or damage to the electric meter due to the fault of the customer, he shall bear the replacement cost of the meter. Article IX: Right to an Accurate Electric Watthour Meter; Determine of Average Error. No meter, including instrument transformers, shall be installed or placed in service unless it has been tested, certified and sealed by the ERC. All watt-hour meters regardless of make and type before being placed in service must be adjusted to as close as possible to the condition of zero error. The method provided in the Standard Rules and Regulations Governing the Operation of Electric Power Services (ERB Resolution 95-21, as amended) shall be used in the determination of average error. The ERC seal is warranty that (1) the meter is an acceptable or accepted types and (2) that it operates within the allowable limits of tolerance. The consumer has a right to demand the production of the meter test report containing the findings of the authorized person who tested the said meter. Article X: Right to a Refund of Overbillings The customer has the right to a refund in cases of overbilling by the distribution utility arising from a meter testing showing that the said meter was fast without any evidence of tampering. In the event that a meter in service is found to have an average error more than the tolerance of plus two percent, the customer is entitled to refund, for a maximum period of six (6) months prior to the date of discovery to be applied to the customer’s future billings. Article XI :Right to a Properly Installed Meter The customer has the right to a meter installed in a clean place free of vibration and where it will be easily accessible and visible for reading and testing by both the distribution utility and the consumer. Under no condition should meters be located behind doors or where they can be easily broken or jarred by moving furnitures or equipment. Meters shall be located on the outside wall of the building or private pole and shall not more than three (3) meters nor less than 1.52 meters mounting height from the surface on which one would stand to repair or inspect the meter. Meters may be located in other areas based on justifiable reasons.

A customer shall bear of cost of relocation of his electric watthour meter under the following circumstances:

1. The customer requests for the relocation of his electric watthour meter, for reasons other than those provided for in the first paragraph; or

2. The meter installation falls to meet the conditions under the first paragraph resulting from improvement done on the customer’s premises, thereby necessitating such relocation.

All other relocations of the meter shall be borne by electric utility. Article XII: Right to a Meter Testing by Electric Utility and/or ERC A customer has a right to require the distribution utility to test, once every two (2) years , free of charge, the accuracy of the meter installed in his premises making use of a meter standard duly tested and sealed by the ERC. If the customer requests for meter testing more than once every two years and the meter being tested is found to be within tolerable limit as provided for in Article 9, hereof, the utility may assess the customer a testing fee based on the testing fee charged by ERC. A written report showing the result of such test shall be furnished the customer. The customer may also request the ERC to conduct a meter test, subject to the payment of a fee prescribed under the approved ERC Schedule of Fees and Charges. In case the meter is found to be inaccurate, the customer may demand the replacement of the said meter or have the ERC calibrate the said meter to restore its accuracy closest to the condition of zero(0) error. The provision on refund or billing adjustment due to inaccurate meters shall apply as appropriate. Article XIII: Right to Prompt Investigation of Complaints; Customer Dealings Distribution utilities shall record and promptly investigate all complaints referred to them concerning their services. The distribution utility must furnish the complaint a report of the action/s taken thereon within the period stated in the distribution utility’s Compliance Plan as provided for in the Philippine Distribution Code. In the absence of such plan, the report must be made within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the complaint. In case of disagreement between the distribution utility and the customer, latter may file a complaint with the ERC in accordance with Article 27 of this Magna Carta. In dealing with their customers relative to electric power services, all officers, employees and agents of distribution utilities must properly and conspicuously display their identification cards at all times. Article XIV: Right to Extension of Lines and Facilities A consumer located within thirty (30) meters from the distribution utilities’ existing secondary low voltage lines, has the right to an extension of lines or installation of additional facilities, other than a service drop, at the expense of the utility in as much as said assets will eventually form part of the rate base of the private distribution utilities, or will be source from the reinvestment funds of the electric cooperatives. However, if a prospective customer is beyond the said distance, or his demand load requires that the utility extend lines and facilities, the customer may initially fund the necessary expenditures. To recover his aforementioned expenditures, the customer may either demand the issuance of a notes payable from the distribution utility or refund at the rate of twenty-five (25) percent of the gross distribution revenue derived for the calendar year, or, if available, the purchase of preferred shares. Revenue derived from additional customers tapped directly to the poles and facilities so extended shall be considered in determining the revenues derived from the extension of facilities. When a developer initially paid the cost of the extension of lines to provide electric service to a specific property and incorporated these expenses in the cost thereof, and that property was purchased and transferred in the name of the extension of lines, and exercise the options for refund provided in this article. If this cost of the extension of lines or installation of additional facilities was funded gratuitously by the other persons of the benefit of the customer, this provision shall not apply. In this connection, all concerned utilities shall furnish the Commission a semi-annual report of the names of customers who made the aforementioned cash advances, the amount of the cash advance and the mode of refund. Article XV: Right to Information; scheduled power interruptions. In order to increase consumer awareness, all offices of distribution utilities must provide a Consumer Bulletin Board where major announcement/documents issued affecting consumers will be posted. Furthermore, they must establish communications facilities, including but not limited to a customer hotline and Short Messaging Service (SMS), to cater exclusively to their customers. Major announcement/documents shall include, but not limited to, rate schedules and any changes thereon; other service charges; terms and conditions of service; standard rules and regulations governing the operation of distribution utilities; general information on metering, including but not limited to the manner in which meters are read and description of method used in reading; decisions and orders of the ERC. When there are two or more authorized schedules of rates applicable to a customer, the distribution utility should accordingly advise said customer in writing and apply the rates which are most beneficial to the customer. At least two (2) days before a scheduled power interruption, a distribution utility must announce the same to its customers through print, or the mass or interactive media. In remote areas where such media are inaccessible, the distribution utility must set up a Bulletin Board where announcements of scheduled power interruptions will be posted in an area that could easily be seen by its customers, preferably along roadsides or in front of the entrance to the City/Municipal Hall or Public Market. Article XVI: Right to a Transparent Billing. Bills to service customers shall confirm with the format as approved by the ERC. The current formats approved by the Commission are shown in Annexes A and B of this Magna Carta. Article XVII: Right to a Monthly Electricity Bill Bills shall be delivered monthly to the consumer by the distribution utility in accordance with the applicable rate schedule. Said bills shall be payable to authorized collectors, the collection office, authorized agents/entities or at its authorized banks. Not withstanding the provisions of the foregoing paragraphs, no violation of the provisions of this Magna Carta is committed by the distribution utility in reading its consumers’ meters beyond the maximum allowable time provided for in Article 2(h). Provided that such inability to read on the time was due to a fortuitous event and, that the meter reading is done immediately after the said fortuitous event ceases to exist. Should the period covered in the electric bill exceed the number of days provided for in this Magna Carta, the distribution utility shall nevertheless provide the applicable subsidy for that consumption level due to the customer as if the meter been read within the maximum allowable period. The distribution utility shall safely keep the duplicate, electronic or otherwise, or office stub of the bills used and shall not be destroyed within five (5) years without authority from the Commission. Article XVIII.Right to Due Process Prior to Disconnection of Electronic Service No consumer shall be deprived of electric service without due process of law. Subject to the foregoing paragraph, disconnection of electric service shall only be made under the following circumstances: a. Non-payment of electric bills within the period of time provide in Article 32 of this Magna Carta; b. Illegal use of electricity under Republic Act No. 7832, otherwise known as the Anti-Electricity Pilferage Law; c. Upon lawful orders of government agencies and/or the courts; d. When the public safety so requires; e. Request of the registered customers based on justifiable reasons; or f. Allowing other end-users or persons to be connected to his electrical installation, wether for profit or not. Article XIX: Right to a Notice to Disconnection For disconnections due to non-payment of electric bills, a written notice must have been served to the customer forty eight (48) hours before such disconnection. The distribution utility may discontinue the service notwithstanding the existence of the customer’s bill deposit with the distribution utility which will serve as guarantee for the payment of future bill(s) after service is reconnected. When the owner/occupant of the house or establishment concerned or someone acting in his behalf shall have been caught in flagrante delicto doing any of the acts enumerated in Section 6 RA 7832, the distribution utility concerned shall have the authority and right to disconnect immediately his electric service after serving the written notice or warning to the effect. The written notice or warning being referred to herein shall be served prior to such disconnection and shall indicate the name and address of the consumer, consumer account number, date of apprehension, findings of fact, amount of energy pilfered in kilowatt-hour, the amount representing the differential billing and the method used in computing the differential billing. Article XX.Right to Suspension of Disconnection Notwithstanding the service of notice but subject to the provisions of RA 7832, disconnections of service shall not be made on any week day beyond three o’clock (3:00 P.M.) in the afternoon, Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays, and under the following or any other similar circumstances: a. One of the permanent occupants is sick and dependent on a life support system requiring electricity; Provided, That the customer can present a medical certificate issued by a duly licensed physician or public health official certifying that the termination of the electric service would be especially dangerous to health of the said person;

b. During the funeral wake of a deceased permanent resident of the premises; Provided, That the consumer can present a duly certified true copy of the death certificate of the deceased issued by the Local Civil Registry of the city or municipality concerned.

c. Customer indubitably proves he did not receive a Statement of Account and/or Disconnection Notice;
d. Customer is being billed in a single statement for consumption covering several months due to the failure of the utility to issue a timely monthly billing statement to the consumer;

e. Customer or his representative is not around; provided however, that this shall not be applicable to disconnection due to non-payment of electric bills. For item (a.), the suspension of the disconnection shall only be made during the dependency of the patient on the life support system which shall not exceed two months from such suspension. For item (b.), the suspension of the disconnection shall only be made during the period of the wake which shall not exceed one month from the suspension or until the internment, whichever comes earlier. For item (c.), the non-receipt should not be caused by the refusal of the customer to accept such electric bill or notice. With respect to item (d.), the customer must pay the current billing on its due date. The distribution utility, however, must enter into an agreement with the customer for a staggered payment scheme within a period equivalent to the number of months covering the unpaid billings. Article XXI: Right to Tender Payment at the Point of Disconnection; Deposit Representing the Differential Billing If at the time the disconnection is to be made, the customer tenders payment of the unpaid bill to the agent or employee of the distribution utility who is to effect the disconnection, the said agent, or employee of the distribution utility shall desist from disconnecting the service to allow the customer to pay his bills within twenty-four (24) hours; Provided however, that the customer can only invoke this provision once for the same unpaid bill. The utility concerned shall not immediately disconnect or shall immediately restore the electric service of the customer upon the deposit by the customer with the utility or with the competent court, as the case may be, of the amount representing the differential billing. Article XXII: Right to Electric Service Despite Arrearages of Previous Tenant Without prejudice to enforcing the provisions of the second paragraph of Article 6 hereof, a distribution utility shall not refuse or discontinue service to an applicant or customer, who is not in arrears to the distribution utility, even though there are unpaid bills or charges due from the premises occupied by the applicant, or customer, on account of an unpaid bill of a prior tenant, unless there is evidence of conspiracy to defraud the distribution utility. Article XXIII.Right to Reconnection of Electric Service Whenever the electric service is disconnected due to non-payment of electric bills, the utility must immediately reconnect the same within the period provided in the utility’s Compliance Plan as approved by the Commission in accordance with the Philippine Distribution Code, but in no case shall exceed twenty-four (24) hours from payment of the said arrearages by the customer. The 24-hour period may be extended only for justifiable reasons. Article XXIV: Right to Witness Apprehension Subject to the provisions of RA 7832, all apprehensions for illegal use of electricity must be personally witnessed by the customer or occupant or someone of suitable age and discretion residing therein and acting in behalf of the owner or occupant of the premises, and by an officer of the law or by an ERC representative. Article XXV.Right to ERC Testing of Apprehended Meter In case the apprehension is witnessed by an officer of the law and not by and ERC authorized representative, the electric meter subject of the offenses must be placed in a suitable container, properly identified and sealed, and shall be opened only by the ERC’s duly authorized representative. Upon removal, the apprehended meter shall be immediately replaced by the distribution utility with an accurate electric watthour meter. However, no disconnection of electric service shall be affected until the ERC issues a meter test report showing that the meter was indeed tampered. Article XXVI: Right to Payment Under Protest In cases of regular electric bills or billing adjustments due to the storage or failure of the meter to register the full and correct amount of energy consumed, or for differential billing due to alleged illegal use of electricity, the consumer shall have the right to pay under protest for purposes of continuous supply of electricity by the utility without prejudice to a complaint to be filed by such customer against the imposition of the billing adjustment or differential billing. Such payment shall not be consumed as an admission by the consumer of the allegations or claims of the distribution utility or of any violation of law or of the contract with the distribution utility. Article XXVII: Right to File Complaints before ERCE Every consumer has the right to file a complaint before the ERC for violation of ERC laws, rules, regulations, guidelines, and policies, including but not limited to RA 9136and its implementing Rules and Regulations, RA 7832 and its implementing Rules and Regulations and ERB Resolution No. 95-21 as amended; Provided, that the complainant has previously discussed/consulted the issue with the Consumer Welfare Desk (CWD) Officer or representative of the concerned distribution utility and no settlement has been reached. CONSUMER OBLIGATIONS Article XXVIII.Obligation to Pay Bill Deposit Article XXIX.Obligations to Allow Inspection, Installation and Removal of Electricity Apparatus Article XXX.Obligation to Allow the Construction of Poles, Lines and Circuits Article XXXI.Obligation to Receive Monthly Bills A bill deposit from all residential customers to guarantee payment of bills shall be required of now and/or additional service.

The amount of the bill deposit shall be equivalent to the estimated billing for one month. Provided that after (1) year and every year thereafter, when the actual average monthly bills or less than the initial bill deposit, such deposit shall be correspondingly increased/decreased to approximate and said billing.

Distribution utilities shall pay interest in bill deposits equivalent to the Interest Incorporated in the calculation of their Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC), otherwise the bill deposit shall earn and interest per annum in accordance with the prevailing Interest rate for saving deposit as approved by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The interests shall be credited yearly to the bills of the registered customer.

In cases where the customer has previously received the refund of his bill deposit pursuant to Article 7, and later defaults in the payment of his monthly bills, the customer shall be required to post another bill deposit with the distribution utility and lose his right to avail to refund his bill deposit in the future until termination of service.
Failure to pay the required bill deposit shall be a ground for disconnection of electric service. Customers shall allow the employees and/or representatives of the distribution utility to enter their premises for the purposes of inspecting, installing, reading, testing, repairing, maintaining, removing, replacing, or otherwise disposing of its apparatus and property, and/or removing the distribution utility’s entire properly in the event of the termination of the electricity service contract; and for disconnection of service for non-payment of bills or violations of contract (VOC).

Provided, however, that only authorized employees and/or representatives of the distribution utility with proper identification cards shall be allowed to make any external adjustments or any meter or any internal or external adjustments of any other pieces of apparatus owned by the distribution utility. Consumers shall allow the distribution utility. If necessary, to construct its poles, lines and circuits and to place its transformers, apparatus on their property or within the building of the consumer, at a point or points convenient for such purpose.

The customer shall allow the distribution to use as suitable space for the installation of necessary metering equipment in order that each equipment will be protected from damage by the elements, or through the negligence or deliberate acts of any person or persons. Consumers must accept their electric bills, without prejudice to exercise of their right to pay under protest pursuant to Article 26 of this Magna Carta in order to contest the same.
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