by Lenie Lectura - June 1, 2016
ELECTRICITY consumers have until December 31 of next year to claim their meter-deposit refund.
Based on Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Resolution 12, which outlines the amended rules to govern the refund of meter deposits to residential and nonresidential consumers, distribution utilities (DUs) were ordered to place all unclaimed meter deposits in a single account in a bank.
“All unclaimed meter deposits, including all appropriate accrued interest, shall be deposited in a government or commercial bank under a single savings account and in the name of the DU strictly intended for the claimants of meter deposits,” the ERC said.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) shall be notified of such deposit, copy furnished the ERC.
“If the unclaimed meter deposit has been placed in the single savings account, the concerned consumer shall have until December 31, 2017, within which to claim their meter-deposit refund,” the ERC noted.
The DU will facilitate the withdrawals of meter deposits after it has verified the identity of the claimants. It shall be responsible in informing its consumers within its franchise area of the deadline and mechanics of the meter-refund deposit.
The DU shall submit a report to the ERC, no later than January 31, 2018, regarding the details of the total unclaimed meter-deposit refund that will be the subject of an escheat proceedings.
The OSG shall initiate the proceedings in the regional trial court where the bank is located, and thereafter, declare the unclaimed meter deposit escheated in favor of the state.
In another resolution, the ERC directed the DU to engage the services of an independent external auditor (IEA) for the conduct of an audit of the meter-deposit refund, and submit an audit report on or before December 31, 2016.
The report would include the principal amount of meter deposits for refund, the total amount already refunded and still to be refunded, total amount of unclaimed meter deposits, total amount of accrued interests, total amount of meter deposit credited to monthly billings of the consumers, total amount as an offset to the obligations of the consumers, total amount converted as contribution of member-consumers of the electric cooperatives, total amount of meter deposit paid in cash or check to the consumer, and other pertinent information of the implementation of meter-deposit refund.
The ERC, in its promulgation of the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers (Magna Carta) and its Guidelines in July 2004 and November 2004, exempted residential customers from paying meter deposits since the meters are the capital properties of DUs.
The Magna Carta contained a directive to the DUs to refund meter deposits. Then, in April 2006, the same directive to refund was applied to nonresidential customers through the implementation of Distribution Services and Open Access Rules.