THE Department of Energy (DoE) has ordered the extension of grace periods and staggered payment schemes for power after the government maintained its declaration of a state of calamity due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II), requires the entire electricity value chain — from generation companies to power utilities — to offer at least a 30-day grace period and allow installment payments of electricity bills falling within the period of a community quarantine.

The advisory dated Sept. 23 covers fuel and resource suppliers, generation companies, independent power producers, the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp., the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, and retail electricity suppliers.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi urged consumers “who are able to pay” to settle their bills within the original due dates.

“(T)o lessen the impact and help manage the cash flow in the energy supply chain, we reiterate our earlier call for the immediate and proportionate remittance of payments received to the respective creditors and suppliers,” he said.

The DoE appealed to local government units to provide the same extensions in the payments of applicable taxes, fees, and dues by owners of energy facilities.

The Energy Regulatory Commission has yet to issue a similar advisory to distribution utilities for their customers.

The first Bayanihan law also required the industry to offer grace periods and staggered payment schemes. Currently, electric utilities are still implementing the installment set-up for arrears incurred during the lockdown period until the end of the year. — Adam J. Ang