Government lifeline program to help poor pay electric bills

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Government lifeline program to help poor pay electric bills
Meralco linemen check the electric meter base at a post along Barangay Commonwealth in Quezon City on May 9, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — The government is set to launch next month a lifeline rate program that aims to help qualified poor households pay their electricity bills, Malacañang said yesterday.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil noted that the lifeline rate is a subsidized rate given to qualified low-income electricity customers who are unable to settle their electricity bills in full.

Among the households who may benefit from the program are the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and customers considered to be living below the poverty threshold set by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The rollout of the lifeline rate program was moved to September to give qualified customers more time to register. The registration turnout for the program is still low, with only 12,829 household beneficiaries of 4Ps out of the 4.2 million household members applying as of the end of July, based on data from the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Garafil said only one distribution utility or electric cooperative service per qualified household can be granted a lifeline rate.

Qualified beneficiaries may apply by submitting to the distribution utility and electric cooperative their duly accomplished lifeline rate application form, their most recent electricity bill and any valid government-issued identification card containing the signature and address of the customer.

If the customer is living below the PSA-set poverty threshold, he or she must present a certification from the local social welfare and development office issued within the last six months showing that his or her family income is lower than the threshold applicable at the time of his or her application.

The validity of the lifeline rate program is based on the annual certified list of 4Ps beneficiaries provided by the social welfare department.

A customer is qualified to benefit from the lifeline rate if he or she remains in the updated list.

If delisted, the customer may apply for a local certification from a social welfare and development office if he or she is living below the poverty line and may reapply for a subsidized rate.

For non-4Ps beneficiaries, the lifeline rate will have a three-year validity from the date of issuance of certification by the local social welfare and development office.

Garafil said the power reduction rate varies depending on the prevailing rates of the distribution utilities or electric cooperatives.

In the franchise area of the Manila Electric Co., lifeline end-users with zero to 20 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of monthly consumption will be granted a 100-percent discount on the generation charges, including system loss, transmission and distribution components of their bill, except for the fixed metering charge of P5, which means more or less only P20 from their electric bills will be paid. If they do not avail themselves of the subsidized rate through Meralco, they would have to spend more or less P250, Garafil said.

Customers with 21 to 50 kWh usage who apply for lifeline rate will only spend around P300 in their electric bills. If they do not avail themselves of the lifeline rate, they would shell out around P550.

Qualified poor households with a 51 to 70 kWh consumption bracket would only pay about P522.90 if they apply for the subsidized rate. The undiscounted rate for users who fall within this consumption bracket is P763.37.

Customers with 71 to 100 kWh usage and who avail themselves of the lifeline rate will only shell out P904.21. They would be charged P1,099.10 if they do not apply for the lifeline rate.

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