MALAMPAYA natural gas project — BW FILE PHOTO

HOUSEHOLDS are set to save up to P2,033.76 a year on electricity payments if a plan to use the P204-billion Malampaya fund to reduce the universal charge materializes.
The Senate Committee on Energy has taken up Senate Bill No. 924, which proposes to allocate the net national government share from the Malampaya natural gas project for the payment of the stranded contract costs and stranded debt of the National Power Corp. The proposed legislation is authored by Senator Ralph G. Recto.
The stranded debt and stranded costs are components used in the computation of the universal charge that is imposed on consumers under Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).
Data presented by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) show that applying the remaining P204 billion of the Malampaya fund would result in avoiding an increase of P0.8474 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in retail power rates.
The move would result in annual savings of P2,033.76 for an average household consuming 200 kWh per month.
“These savings are enough for an underprivileged household to buy two additional sacks of rice every year,” said Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate energy panel, in a statement.
He said he supports the measure in principle, subject to further study on “precisely how much of the remaining Malampaya funds should be applied for the purpose.”
Also on Tuesday, Mr. Gatchalian took to task once more the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for delays in the approval of the stranded debt and contract cost and rate applications.
PSALM pointed out that the delays had resulted in an additional P34.78 billion of costs to be shouldered by consumers, equivalent to a power rate increase of P0.1973 per kWh.
Mr. Gatchalian said the additional costs are “absolutely unacceptable.” — Victor V. Saulon