Senate bill: Extend lifeline power rate subsidies for another 20 years
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for the extension of lifeline electricity rate subsidies for another 20 years to low-income households with a monthly consumption of 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) or less.
Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, filed Senate Bill No. 1583 which seeks to amend Section 73 of Republic Act 9136 or the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).
Under the EPIRA law, the lifeline rate or a subsidized rate was given for a period of 10 years to low income captive market end-users who cannot afford to pay at full cost. In 2011, the lifeline rate was extended until 2021.
But with the lifeline rate set to expire next year, Gatchalian underscored the “urgency” to further extend it in order to provide continuous relief to marginalized households until 2041.
“The spirit of this measure is to really cushion the blow of power-rate increases to marginalized households who cannot afford to pay the full cost of their electricity bill,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
“We already made strides in breaking that barrier to access electricity through the lifeline-rate subsidies and there’s no turning back now,” he added.
Lifeline rates refer to the subsidized rates given to customers with up to 100 kWh consumption every month. The discounts given to these consumers are shouldered by those with higher electricity consumption.
Gatchalian noted that at present, customers who consume a monthly average of 21 to 50 kWh are entitled to a 50-percent discount while those consuming an average of 51-70 kWh will get a 35-percent discount.
For those who consume an average monthly electricity of 71 to 100 kWh, they are entitled to a 20-percent discount, he further noted.
Gatchalian said the 2,410,974 Meralco customers who availed of the lifeline rate in 2019 saved P3.8 billion or P1,576 annually per customer / household.
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