Gordon throws support in amending EPIRA law

Published October 8, 2020, 2:01 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Richard J. Gordon today threw his support for a bill seeking to amend the Electric Power Industry Reform (EPIRA) Law, pointing out that the power subsidy provided by the law should benefit Filipinos who are on the poverty line.

Senator Richard Gordon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

This came after Gordon signed a committee report pushing for bills, such as Senate Bill No, 1583, seeking to extend lifeline rate subsidies for 20 more years in order to provide continuous relief to marginalized households or those who consume 100 kilowatt-hours or less of monthly electricity.

“We have to cushion the blow of power-rate increases to marginalized households who cannot afford to pay the full cost of their electricity bill, especially with the economic effects of this (coronavirus disease) COVID-19 pandemic,’’ he said.

‘’But we have to ensure that those who are benefitting from this relief are really those who are on the poverty line. There are those who own several houses and the power consumption in the houses that they don’t occupy would be less than average. They are not on the poverty line. So we really have to be clear on who would benefit,” he added.

The bills seek to amend Section 73 of the EPIRA Law which state that the lifeline rate or a subsidized rate given for a period of ten years to low income captive market end-users who cannot afford to pay at full cost.

In 2011, the lifeline rate has been extended until 2021, by virtue of RA No. 10150. The law mandates the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to set lifeline rate for low-income households.

At present, customers with an average monthly consumption of 21 to 50 kilowatt hours (kWh) are entitled to a 50-percent discount while those consuming an average of 51-70 kWh will get a 35-percent discount.

On the part of those who consume an average monthly electricity of 71 to 100 kWh, they are entitled to a 20-percent discount.

Aside from extending the lifeline rate, the measures also defined qualified marginalized end-users as qualified household-beneficiaries under Republic Act No. 11310, or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino (PPP) Program; and marginalized end-users who have been certified as such by their distribution utility based on a criteria determined by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).