By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco has urged the government to provide assistance to poor ‘lifeline consumers’ who have been affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The chairperson of the House Committee on Energy made the proposal during a high-level energy policy meeting with Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Agnes Devanadera on April 24, Friday.
Also joining them was Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian.
Velasco cited the need to assist ‘lifeline consumers,’ as most of them belong to the poorest of the poor.
“The lockdown may have skewed the definition of ‘lifeline consumers’ since most people are staying at home and consuming electricity in the households,” he said in a statement.
During the meeting, Devanadera said the definition of ‘lifeline consumers’ vary for every Electric Cooperative (EC) in the country, and that several ECs have already indicated that they will fully subsidize the cost for their lifeline consumers, while others could only offer partial subsidy or discounts, Velasco said.
“A consensus was then reached that government should see to it that ‘lifeline consumers’ up to 50KWH be given subsidy nationwide by tapping into several funds available for ECs,” he said.
He also took note the support extended by the energy players particularly the ECs and Distribution Utilities (DUs) to the government during this pandemic crisis.
“Since Day One of the lockdown, ECs and DUs have supported local government units (LGUs) and provided critical support by ensuring uninterrupted power for hospitals and medical facilities primarily engaged in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
During the meeting, Velasco raised the possibility of conducting planned maintenance works on power plants during the lockdown as among the measures to ensure “a more efficient power situation.”
He observed that there is a dramatic drop in power system requirements in the country as a result of the ECQ.
During the meeting, the House leader also inquired on post-lockdown scenarios because it may take some time before demand for power reaches pre-ECQ levels, even after the ECQ is lifted, according to the statement issued by Velasco’s Office.
Quoting Cusi, Velasco said it is difficult to carry out maintenance works during lockdown since necessary supplies and needed spare parts have to be secured.
Cusi assured them that the system could withstand any unforced outages.
“As for post-lockdown, the government expects some difficulties, thus there is a need to give assistance to the energy stakeholders now to prepare for post-lockdown scenarios,” Velasco said.