The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is soliciting inputs from industry stakeholders for the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11552, which seeks to extend the lifeline subsidy or discount rate for marginalized electricity consumers for the next 50 years.

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Signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in May this year, the law specifically stipulated that “in order to provide assistance to electricity consumers, especially those living below the poverty line, and to achieve a more equitable distribution of the lifeline subsidy, a socialized pricing mechanism called a ‘lifeline rate’ for qualified marginalized end-users shall be set by the ERC.”

It was further prescribed that the duration of that lifeline rate subsidy shall be for “a period of 50 years, unless otherwise extended by law.”

The determination of the subsidy rates to be extended to the qualified marginalized end-users had been vested as an authority to be exercised also by the ERC, being the regulator of the restructured power industry.

As specified in the law, “the level of consumption, subsidy and rate shall be determined by the ERC after due notice and hearing,” hence, the regulatory body is now soliciting inputs and comments from the affected and relevant stakeholders.

The concerned parties are given until September 3, 2021 to submit comments or counter-comments to the inputs already submitted by the other industry players.

“All counter-comments and proposals and/or counter-proposals received by the Commission within the prescribed period shall be made part of the records of the rule-making proceeding and may be considered in the finalization of Republic Act 11552’s IRR,” the ERC emphasized.

On establishing the database of Filipino consumers that may be eligible to avail of the extended lifeline rate discounts, the law decreed that the ERC “shall primarily use data from the PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority) in the determination of the level of consumption.”

In the initial implementation of lifeline rate subsidy under Section 73 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the tariff discounts ranged from 25 to 75-percent depending on the magnitude of power usage of the marginalized end-user or poor household customer – and the consumption range considered had been from zero to 100 kilowatt-hours.

In the extension of the lifeline rate subsidy, it was propounded that the ERC shall make use of the qualified household-beneficiaries that are already listed in the Pantawid ng Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P) of the government.

The validation of qualified customer-beneficiaries shall also be done with the help of the servicing distribution utilities (DUs), such as that of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and other private DUs as well as electric cooperatives.

Source: Manila Bulletin (