The Supreme Court is upholding the decision of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which will see the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (INEC) return P480-million worth of overrecovered electric billings to its consumers. 

In an earlier recommendation, ERC commanded INEC to refund part of the billings they collected from consumers between 2004 and 2010, which the regulator deemed as over-collection after thorough computation. 

INEC sought to appeal the ruling, which is why it has reached the Court of Appeals and High Court.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is not only a victory for ERC, but more importantly a victory for the consumers. This shows that our regulatory policies have the consumers’ welfare in mind – that is to protect their interests by ensuring that what was charged and collected from them are but reasonable and accurate rates,” said ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Agnes Devanadera in a statement.

Before the current ruling, INEC asked ERC to approve an over-recovery refund worth P8-million for the years 2004 to 2010. However, upon further investigation, ERC found the value to be inaccurate and should be much higher—bringing us to the current P480 million. 

ERC revealed that after their computation, INEC brought the matter to the Higher Courts. 

“The SC… argued, among others, that findings of administrative or regulatory agencies on matters within their technical area of expertise are generally accorded not only respect but finality as such findings are supported by substantial evidence,” ERC shared, citing the High Court’s 21-page decision on February 3. 

SC also supported the Court of Appeals’ decision to sustain ERC’s over-recovery computation. 

ERC functions as a quasi-judicial regulatory entity, which seeks to foster a democratic and transparent environment at the same time balance the interests of both energy corporations and consumers. 

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