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Senate, House approve Murang Kuryente bill

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By Charmaine A. Tadalan and Camille A. Aguinaldo
Reporters

THE two chambers of Congress on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill proposing to use the government share of the Malampaya fund as subsidy to settle obligations of the National Power Corp. (NPC).

House Bill No. 8869 was passed with 171 affirmative votes, 6 negative votes and zero abstention. Senate Bill No. 1950 was passed with 17 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and no abstention.

The bill if enacted is expected to reduce electricity rates.

The House bill provided that a portion of the Net National Government Share from the Malampaya Natural Gas Project be used as payment to NPC’s Stranded Contract Cost (SCC) and Stranded Debts (SD) until 2023.

“The PSALM shall utilize the said P123 billion up to the year 2023 to settle its obligations,” stated Section 5 of the bill. Payment of the Stranded Contract Cost and Stranded Debts will be reflected as a reduction in the universal charge imposed on consumers.

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco, chair of the energy committee, sees projected savings from the bill at P0.574 kilowatt-hour (kWh), which translates to savings of P115 for an average of 200 kWh consumption per month.

As for the Senate version, the bill seeks to allocate the government’s share from the Malampaya fund also for the payment of NPC’s missionary electrification charges, environmental charges and the feed-in-tariff allowance (FiT-All), aside from the SCC and SD.

The missionary electrification charge is used for providing power generation in areas not connected to the transmission system. Meanwhile the environmental charge is used for NPC’s watershed rehabilitation and management. The FiT-All is used for the government’s program to develop renewable energy resources under Republic Act No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

At present, these charges, except for the FiT-All, are passed on to consumers under the universal charges (UC) found in the monthly electric bill. The FiT-All is also charged to consumers as a separate item in the electric bill.

The Senate bill also directs the government’s share from the Malampaya fund to be remitted to a special trust fund to be administered by the PSALM, which will be included in the General Appropriations Act. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is tasked to provide a timely release of the amounts allocated and appropriated to the PSALM.

Both versions of the bill further provided that once obligations have been paid before the termination of the corporate life of PSALM, the net national government share shall accrue to the special fund for the purpose of funding exploration and development.

Moreover, the House bill also proposed that an amount of P25 billion of the P221 billion Malampaya fund be allocated for exploration projects of the Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corporation.