THE ENERGY Regulatory Commission (ERC) said Wednesday that it held discussions with the government’s economic planning agency on establishing an electricity affordability index to better implement subsidized power rates for poor consumers. 

In a statement, the ERC said it met with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to discuss the index as part of the regulator’s activities in response to Republic Act No. 11552, An Act Extending and Enhancing the Implementation of the Lifeline Rate. 

The lifeline rate is a socialized pricing mechanism for marginalized end-users. It was first authorized by RA 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA). RA 11552 amends Section 73 of EPIRA.  

“Considering the current state of our electricity rates, particularly generation rates, we look forward to the immediate realization of the objectives of Republic Act No. 11552 and achieve a more equitable implementation of the lifeline subsidy, particularly to those living below the poverty threshold,” ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Monalisa C. Dimalanta said in the statement. 

The ERC said index is intended to provide government agencies a “clear view” of a consumer’s ability to pay electricity bills, and will reflect the nuances of every region in terms of retail electricity prices. 

“The Electricity Affordability Index is envisioned to support the adoption of government policies and programs that are sensitive to the geographic and economic peculiarities of electricity consumers,” the ERC said. 

The ERC added that it has signed a data-sharing agreement with private distribution utilities to improve lifeline rate implementation 

The ERC said the data-sharing deal will be accompanied by  privacy safeguards to protect those eligible for lifeline rates, which are intended for marginalized power consumers. – Ashley Erika O. Jose