A MEASURE extending for 20 years the lifeline rate subsidy granted to low-income households has been filed in the Senate.

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, or Republic Act No. 9136, provided for a 10-year lifeline rate benefitting marginalized households or those consuming up to 100 kilowatt-hours monthly.

This was later extended for another 10 years, through RA 10150 in 2011, which will be expiring next year.

Under Senate Bill No. 1583, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian proposed to extend the lifeline rate subsidy for 20 years or until 2041.

“The spirit of this measure is to really cushion the blow of power-rate increases to marginalized households who cannot afford to pay the full cost of their electricity bill,” Mr. Gatchalian said in the explanatory note of the bill.

“We made strides in breaking that barrier to access electricity through the lifeline-rate subsidies and there’s no turning back now.”

At present, consumers with an average of 21-50 kWh monthly consumption are entitled to a 50% discount.

Households with an average of 51-70 kWh consumption enjoy a 35% discount, while those consuming 71-100 kWh get 20%.

“The lifeline rate has benefitted numerous low-income households through the years,” Mr. Gatchalian, who chairs the Energy committee, also said.

In 2019, 2.4 million households availed the lifeline rate in 2019 from Meralco, resulting in a total of P3.8 billion saving.

Mr. Gatchalian said this also means each low-income household generated some P1,576 annual savings. — Charmaine A. Tadalan