"No disconnection" policy for electricity lifeliners extended until Feb. - Palace
Lifeline customers of Manila Electric Company and other distribution utilities would not be disconnected at least until this month and could pay in installments after President Rodrigo Duterte agreed with the recommendation of the Department of Energy to extend for two months the "no disconnection" policy, Malacanang said on Thursday.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, in the "Virtual Presser," said Duterte also approved the recommendation of the DOE to urge Congress to pass the extension of the benefits enjoyed by the lifeliners from 2021 to 2051.
Lifeliners are the low-income captive market end-users who cannot afford to pay at full cost, and are determined based on electricity consumption below a threshold level set by the Energy Regulatory Commission. In Meralco-franchised areas, lifeliners are customers consuming 100-kilowatt hours and below monthly.
"According to the Department of Energy, while lifeliners comprise 32 percent of the costumer base, they only account for three percent of electricity sales; so this is very doable. In the Cabinet meeting yesterday, the Department of Energy recommended to the President that this ‘no disconnection’ policy for lifeliners be continued. And the President readily agreed given that electricity is a basic necessity our countrymen cannot live without," Nograles said.
Duterte presided over a full Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The "no disconnection policy," which was implemented last year due to coronavirus pandemic supposedly ended last December.
The DOE, in a statement, said the DUs were also asked to provide options for installment payment for lifeliners.
Since the benefits enjoyed by the lifliners will end by middle of this year, Nograles said the Palace is urging Congress to further extend the law by another 30 years.
"That's why we are requesting Congress to fast-track the passage of the bill that will extend this from 2021 to 2051," he said.
The DOE said to help lessen the impact of the extension of the grace period to lifeliners and help manage the cash flow in the energy supply chain, "consumers who are capable of paying are encouraged to continue paying their bills within the original due dates."
It has also called on the ERC to closely monitor pass-through charges. Celerina Monte/DMS