Government pushes back full implementation of lifeline rate program to January 2024

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The full implementation of the lifeline rate program was moved to January next year.

β€œTo allow for the roll-out of more aggressive promotion and registration efforts from distribution utilities [DUs], consumers and the government, as well as for the review of the registration requirements, the full implementation of the new lifeline rate program is hereby moved to January 2024,” the tripartite advisory of the Department of Energy, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) stated.

The advisory was signed on September 1 and was made public on Tuesday, September 5.

Under the lifeline rate program, qualified customers should have a monthly electricity consumption of 100-kilowatt hours (kWh) or below can avail the discount ranging from 20 percent to 100 percent in their electricity bills depending on their actual consumption.

Starting January 1, 2024, only those who have approved applications shall be entitled to avail of the subsidy.

The agencies said there was an increase in the number of qualified marginalized end-users (QMEs) who have registered under the program. As of August 30, there are 47,171 that have signed up for the electricity lifeline rate.

In spite of the significant increase in the number of registrants, the agencies said there remains a considerable number of QMEs who have yet to avail of the benefits of registering under the lifeline rate program.

As such, all DUs are directed β€œto exert more aggressive promotion efforts to disseminate information on the program and to continue accepting and processing applications.”

The lifeline rate program is not new. Based on historical data there were almost 6 million that have availed of the program in the past. The number consists of beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program  (4Ps) and those who are not marginalized users.

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), for its part, said it has ramped up the conduct of barangay caravans in different cities and provinces within its franchise area to encourage more beneficiaries of the 4Ps and other qualified marginalized households to apply for the lifeline rate program so that they can get discounts on their electricity bills.

Beyond information campaigns that started as early as April, Meralco has also been conducting on-site applications for qualified customers so that they can immediately benefit from the program.

Meralco Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications Joe R. Zaldarriaga said the power distributor is proactively looking for ways to encourage more customers to apply for the lifeline rate program.