DOE seeks more equitable lifeline-subsidy distribution

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THE Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) are soliciting comments from industry stakeholders on a draft circular that seeks to extend and enhance the implementation of the lifeline rate in order to achieve a more equitable distribution of the lifeline subsidy.

A lifeline rate is a subsidized rate for marginalized or low-income end-users who consume power below a threshold level as determined by the ERC. The cost is being passed on to non-lifeline consumers.

Under the proposed requirements, the distribution utility (DU) shall file a petition for their proposed new lifeline rate, to be guided by the consumption level that will be imposed by the ERC.

For initial implementation of the proposed rules, DUs shall continue to implement the existing approved lifeline rate and level of consumption until a new set is approved by the ERC.

“The rate, as well as the consumption level, will be per DU. They need to file an application,” ERC Commissioner Floresinda G. Baldo-Digal said when sought for comment.

For the DU’s part, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said the industry will await and be guided by the implementing rules of the law.

“DUs will have to wait the final rules, in case they provide parameters that will guide any proposal to be submitted,” said Meralco Utility Economics Head Lawrence S. Fernandez.

The lifeline rate subsidy being paid by non-lifeline consumers in the Meralco franchise is P0.0478 per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

The DUs should submit an annual report on the implementation of the lifeline subsidy that will include the number of marginalized end-users, among others.

To be considered for the grant of the lifeline discount, the applicant must be any qualified household-beneficiary under Republic Act 11310 otherwise known as the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino” program or 4Ps. The applicant must also be living below the poverty threshold established by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Apart from these, the applicant’s average monthly registered kilowatt hour consumption for the past 12 months is equivalent to or lower than the lifeline consumption level approved by the ERC.

Earlier, the Bicameral Conference Committee has approved a measure seeking to extend the lifeline rate subsidy for 30 more years or until 2051.

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