House gives poor electric consumers 10-year extension of lifeline rates

Published January 19, 2021, 10:22 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives approved on Monday a 10-year extension of the implementation of lifeline rates for low income electricity consumers.

With 208 affirmative and zero negative votes, House Bill 8145 was approved on third and final reading.

Endorsed by the House Committee on Energy for immediate plenary approval, HB 8145 will amend Section 73 of Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

Section 73  provides for social pricing mechanism called the lifeline rate for the benefit of marginalized electricity end users for ten years since RA 9136 was enacted in 2001.

Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, chairman of the energy panel, said the most recent amendment to RA 9136 puts an end to the lifeline rate this year.

HB 8145 consolidated four bills filed separately by six congressmen. The authors include Reps. Wesley Gatchalian (NPC, Valenzuela City); Godofredo Guya (RECOBODA Partylist); Presley de Jesus (Philreca); Adriano Ebcas (Ako Padayon Pilipino); Joy Tambunting (PDP-Laban, Paranaque City) and Sergio Dagooc (APEC Partylist)

Gatchalian,  a deputy speaker, and Tambunting have sought an extension of 20 years for low income Filipinos to enjoy the lifeline rate for electricity consumption.

 “This will ensure continuity of the crucial assistance to low income electricity consumers, enabling them to access electricity and improve their lives,” said Gatchalian.

He pointed out that members of the 15th Congress “saw it fit” to extend the lifeline rate implementation for another ten years because “a great number of low income households” benefitted from it.

However, the energy panel agreed to reduce the 20-year proposal to just ten years, thus, allowing the continued implementation of lifeline rates until 2031.

HB 8145 defines marginalized electricity end users as low-income captive market end-users who cannot afford to pay their electricity consumption at full cost due to poverty.  

These end users usually consume an average of 100 kilowatt-hours or less of electricity.

The bill also mandates the Energy Regulatory Commission to determine the socialized pricing mechanism for marginalized end-users of electricity.

“Now, more than ever, as the country faces economic setbacks due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic, low income consumers need continuous relief and assistance to enable them to access electricity and uplift their lives,” authors of the bill who belong to the so-called power bloc stated in the explanatory note of the bill.