Cebu News

Lifeline subsidy

Alexis Romero - The Freeman

CEBU, 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 said the lifeline rate is a financial subsidy given to qualified low-income consumers 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) or consumers considered to be living below the poverty threshold set by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Implemented by the social welfare department, 4Ps is the government's national poverty reduction strategy that provides cash aid to beneficiaries who satisfy the conditions required by the program.

The rollout of the lifeline rate program was moved to September to give qualified beneficiaries more time to register.

Low turnout

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. If there are more than one beneficiary who apply for the lifeline rate from the same household using the same service account, only one application would be approved.

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

If delisted, the consumer 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.

Estimated rates

Earlier, the Visayan Electric said it is expected to extend an estimated P14 million in Lifeline Subsidy discount to some 40,000 to 50,000 beneficiaries within their franchise area who are either beneficiaries of 4Ps or are from marginalized sectors whose family income is below the poverty threshold.

Under the joint new policy of Enhanced Lifeline Subsidy issued by DOE and Department of Social Welfare and Development and Energy Regulatory Commission, if the beneficiary’s monthly electricity consumption is 100kWh and below, he or she is eligible to apply for the lifeline subsidy.

For those from the marginalized sector who are not members of 4Ps, they need a certification from DSWD.

The lifeline rate, initially provided for in R.A. 10150 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, refers to the subsidized electricity rate given to qualified customers who have a monthly electricity consumption of not more than 100kWh.

Under R.A. 11552, an Act Extending and Enhancing the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate, which was signed into law in October 2022, specifies that aside from the 100kWh and below electricity consumption, the Lifeline Rate will only be available for beneficiaries of the government’s 4Ps or those households whose monthly family income lie below the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)’s poverty threshold.

In the franchise area of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), 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 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, as compared to about P550-bill, if they do not avail of the lifeline rate.

Qualified poor households with a 51 to 70 kWh consumption bracket would only pay about P522.90 if they are under the program versus the undiscounted rate of P763.37.

Customers with 71 to 100 kWh usage and who avail 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. — (FREEMAN)


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