MANILA – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has signed a law extending the electricity lifeline rates, especially for the poor, for a period of 50 years.
Republic Act No. 115521, signed by Duterte on May 27, amends section 73 of the Electronic Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) law.
"In order to provide assistance to electricity consumers, especially those living below the poverty line, and to achieve a more equitable distribution of the lifeline subsidy, a socialized pricing mechanism called a lifeline rate for qualified marginalized end-users shall be set by the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) which shall be exempted from the cross-subsidy phase-out under this Act for a period of 50 years unless otherwise extended by law," the law read.
The level of consumption, subsidy, and rate shall be determined by the ERC after due notice and hearing, it added.
The ERC shall primarily utilize data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in the determination of the level of consumption.
Under the law, qualified marginalized end-users include qualified Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries and those who have been certified and continually validated as such by their distribution utility based on criteria determined by the ERC.
RA 115521 also directs the ERC to promulgate rules and guidelines for qualified marginalized end-users whose meters or service connections are not registered in their name.
The ERC shall submit to the joint congressional energy commission an annual report on the implementation of the lifeline rate.
To achieve the objective of providing assistance to electricity consumers especially those living below the poverty line and ensure a more equitable distribution of the lifeline subsidy, the ERC shall conduct a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation of its implementation every two years to include modes of validation and prevention of leakages.
The ERC, together with the Department of Energy and Department of Social Welfare and Development, in consultation with the PSA and other public and private stakeholders, shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of this Act within 90 calendar days from its effectivity.
Given the economic uncertainties created by the Covid-19 pandemic, lawmakers deemed it better to provide a more long-term subsidy in favor of poor households.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Energy and sponsor of the bill, earlier said the measure will also have a minimal impact on non-lifeline rate consumers. (PNA)