No disconnection for lifeline power consumers – Duterte

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FAMILIES that consume 100 kilowatts of electricity per hour would be spared from disconnection of power supply by electricity distribution giant Manila Electric Company (MERALCO), says President Rodrigo Duterte.

Taking cue from the recommendation of the Department of Energy (DOE), Duterte signed the executive order imposing a moratorium on the disconnection of power supplies for those referred to as “lifeline” customers or those with low monthly electricity consumption.

At a news conference, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the President made the decision during the 51st Cabinet meeting which took place Wednesday night — “The President readily agreed given that electricity is a basic necessity our countrymen cannot live without,” Nograles said.

“Makakahinga na po ng malalim ang ating mga kababayan na mababa o walang kita. Hindi po kayo mapuputulan ng kuryente.”

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) previously ordered power distribution utilities not to implement any disconnection on account of non-payment of bills until December 31, 2020 for consumers with monthly consumption “not higher than twice the ERC maximum lifeline consumption level.”

“According to the DOE, while lifeliners comprise 32 percent of the customer base, they only account for 3 percent of electricity sales. So, this is very doable,” Nograles said.

Duterte also urged Congress to extend the subsidy for marginalized power consumers for a period of 30 years or from 2021 to 2051, according to Nograles.

“[This is] because of the pandemic and sa computation ng DOE, hindi naman ito mabigat para sa ating mga distribution utilities. Kayang-kaya naman po,” he said.

The Senate approved an extension of only 10 years last month.

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