Waived electricity fee for low-consumption customers amid pandemic pushed
MANILA, Philippines – A progressive group has filed a petition before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Friday to waive the electricity bills of customers affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and consuming an average of 200 kilowatt-hour (kWh) or less.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said that many Social Amelioration Program (SAP) beneficiaries will have a hard time settling their electricity bills since quarantine regulations halted work in many industries and sectors.
“It is our respectful position that generation, transmission, distribution and other charges should be waived for residential customers consuming a monthly average of 200 kWh or below during the community quarantine,” Bayan said in the petition filed electronically by its secretary general, Renato Reyes.
“It is time for the power sector to help lessen the burden on poor consumers and sections of the middle class through actual discounts and not just deferment of payments,” the group added.
Bayan suggested that the first 200 kWh of households who consume an average of 200 kWh to 500 kWh — or those belonging to the lower middle class — also be waived by the electric companies.
Bayan explained that the move is necessary because even if community quarantine restrictions are lifted, a lot of consumers will still be financially drained.
“The COVID 19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown have resulted in the loss of livelihood for millions of Filipinos. The Department of Labor estimates that some 2.6 million have already temporarily lost their jobs. DOLE estimates that total job losses could reach as high as 4 to 5 million,” the group said.
While several utility service companies have expressed willingness to extend billing periods without cutting services, customers would still have to settle their entirety of their bills in several tranches.
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