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Extension in subsidizing electricity of low-income households needed

Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the extension of lifeline rate subsidies for 20 more years in order to provide continuous relief to marginalized households or those who consume 100 kilowatt-hours or less of monthly electricity.


MANILA, Philippines – Residents walk through houses built on top of this breakwater in Baseco, a depressed area in Tondo district, 26 May 2017 file. Senate Committee on Energy chairman Senator Win Gatchalian is eyeing to extend subsidies to help low-income power consumers up until 2041. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy has filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1583 which seeks to further amend Section 73 of Republic Act 9136 or the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), as amended by Republic Act. No. 10150 or an act extending the implementation of the lifeline rate.

Sec. 73 of the EPIRA Law states the lifeline rate or a subsidized rate given for a period of ten years to low income captive market end-users who cannot afford to pay at full cost. In 2011, the lifeline rate has been extended until 2021, by virtue of RA No. 10150. The law mandates the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to set lifeline rate for low-income households.

With the lifeline-rate subsidy set to expire next year, Gatchalian sees the urgency to further extend subsidies to help low-income power consumers up until 2041.

At present, customers with an average monthly consumption of 21 to 50 kilowatt hours (kWh) are entitled to a 50-percent discount while those consuming an average of 51-70 kWh will get a 35-percent discount. On the part of those who consume an average monthly electricity of 71 to 100 kWh, they are entitled to a 20-percent discount.

The lifeline rate has benefited numerous low-income households through the years. In the Meralco franchise alone, 2,410,974 households availed of the lifeline rate in 2019 saving them Php 3.8 billion. This translates to Php 1,576 annual savings for each of these households.

Gatchalian filed the bill in order to continue the much-needed assistance to low income electricity consumers, which in turn enables them to access electricity and improve their lives.

“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. We already made strides in breaking that barrier to access electricity through the lifeline-rate subsidies and there’s no turning back now,” Gatchalian pointed out.

“Sa pagsulong ng batas na ito, hangad natin ang maliwanag at magandang bukas sa bawat isang Pilipino. Kaya bago pa man mapaso ang lifeline-rate subsidy sa susunod na taon ay minabuti na nating isulong agad ang panukalang ito ngayon para masigurung tuloy-tuloy ang sapat na kuryente sa abot-kayang halaga,” he concluded.