The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued an advisory to all distribution utilities (DUs) regarding the extension of “no disconnection policy” for lifeline consumers.
The advisory dated Feb. 5 is pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval of DOE’s recommendation to continue the “no disconnection policy” for lifeline consumers.
“Pursuant thereto, all DUs are hereby directed to implement a no disconnection policy due to non-payment of bills falling due by March 2021 for all electricity consumers whose consumption level are within the lifeline rate set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for the DU’s franchise area,” the DOE advisory said.
For instance, lifeline consumers of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the biggest distribution utility firm in the country, are those consuming below 100 kilowatt hours per month.
According to DOE, lifeline consumers comprise 32 percent of distribution utilities’ consumer base. However, they only account for 3 percent of the firm’s electricity sales.
In a Cabinet meeting last week, Duterte approved the recommendations of DOE to give assistance to low-income consumers.
“As we grappled with the peak of Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) transmissions last year, the DOE took proactive steps to help consumers, most especially those at the margins, keep afloat in the midst of grave health and livelihood concerns,” DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Moreover, the latest DOE advisory also asks all electricity consumers who are still unable to pay their bills to enter into a “socially equitable and manageable payment terms” with the distribution utilities.
“Notwithstanding, we seek the solidarity of those consumers who are capable to pay to settle their bills within the original due dates to help manage the cash flow in the energy supply chain and ensure the continuous supply of electricity,” DOE added.