MANILA -The national government has again extended to January next year the registration deadline for a program granting discounted electricity rates for the marginalized sector, as more qualified beneficiaries are anticipated to apply.
The Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development on Tuesday issued a tripartite advisory on the lifeline rate program to allow “more aggressive” information dissemination efforts nationwide.
The DOE’s lifeline rate program is a socialized pricing mechanism set by the ERC based on consumption threshold. It was immediately implemented after the passage of Republic Act No. 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, for an initial 10-year period.
This was later extended until 2051 under Republic Act No. 11552 signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2021.
According to the DOE, the DSWD has so far received 41,171 applications from beneficiaries of the national government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
This is way above the nearly 16,000 who registered as of July, but still far behind the 4.2-million target.
“All distribution utilities are directed to exert more aggressive promotion efforts to disseminate information on the lifeline rate program and to continue accepting applications,” the agencies said in their advisory.
While the program had previously granted subsidies to any household consuming up to only 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a month, RA 11552 mandated the proper targeting of beneficiaries to allow only 4Ps members and low-income households identified by the DSWD to get 20- to 100-percent discounts.
In Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco) franchise area, households consuming up to 20 kWh a month get a 100-percent subsidy, while those consuming 21 to 50 kWh get 50 percent.
A 35-percent discount is granted to households with a 51- to 70-kWh monthly consumption, while 20 percent is granted to those consuming 71 to 100 kWh a month.
Under the program, DOE Electric Power Industry Management Bureau chief Luningning Baltazar explained that those consuming 20 kWh only needed to pay about P20 a month. This already includes the P5 metering charge and tax that was “very small,” according to Baltazar.
As applications were extended until January 2024, this means only those who have approved applications by then may be able to avail themselves of the subsidy, the agencies said.
Customers may apply through Meralco’s business centers and are required to present their accomplished application form, latest electricity bill and 4Ps identification cards.
Non-4Ps beneficiaries, meanwhile, need a certification from their local social welfare and development office, as well as a government ID.
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