DoE proposes P800 monthly incentive for lifeline customers

The Department of Energy (DoE) has proposed to incoming President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to expand the mechanics of the lifeline subsidy by providing them an P800 monthly incentive during his first 100 days in office.,At a recent press briefing, Energy Undersecretary for Special Concerns Benito Ranque pointed out that the move will trim down the cost of fuel and electricity without suspending excise and value-added tax (VAT) collected from its sale and consumption.,A lifeline rate is a subsidized rate given to low income users consuming electricity below 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) who cannot afford to pay their bills at full cost. It is mandated by the Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001.,Ranque, however, pointed out that it is still imperative for the Marcos administration to come up with a long-term program that would cut the cost of electricity by as much as 50 percent in the next five to six years. ,According to him, suspending VAT and excise tax on fuel and electricity is no longer feasible as the process requires a tedious congressional deliberation, adding that it would adversely affect the government efforts to ease the adverse effects of the continuing pandemic scare.,Ranque also said that the government should also provide small electric cooperatives their much-needed boost.,“These electric cooperatives should be equipped with their own power plant, preferably renewable energy facilities. By doing so, we get to spare them from buying expensive electricity from the power generators and sell to their consumers,” Ranque said.,Electricity rate, at least in areas covered by Meralco, went down by 12 centavos this month despite rising commodity prices.,The rate reduction is equivalent to P24 decrease in total bill of residential customers consuming 200 kWh; P36 for 300 kWh consumption; P48 for 400 kWh consumption; and P60 for 500kWh consumption.,Meralco said the slight cut in power bills was due to the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) order to refund P7.8 billion after validation of its Third Regulatory Period tariffs from July 2011 to June 2015.,The refund of distribution-related charges is equivalent to 47 centavos per kWh for residential customers, which will appear as a separate line item in customers’ power bills.,