Solons push for lower electricity bills

LAWMAKERS are gearing for the passage of a measure that will reduce electricity bills by an estimated maximum P0.08 per kilowatt hour.

Expected to be approved in the plenary is a consolidated bill proposing the reduction of electricity rates by authorizing Malampaya Fund subsidy of the National Power Corporation stranded debts and stranded contract costs of electricity.

Once passed into law, the rate of electricity hopefully will go down starting next year, the House committee on energy said.

Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco, energy panel chairman, authored House Bill 8082 that proposes the reduction of electricity rates by allocating the net national government share from the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power Project to cover for NPC expenses on stranded contracts costs and stranded debts.

With Velasco as among the principal authors, the consolidated bill is expected to make it in the priority legislative list that will be endorsed when the House resumes session this month.

In pushing for approval of the measure, Velasco pointed out that the Malampaya Project’s estimated “long-term revenue” to the Philippine government could reach “$10 billion for a period of 20 years starting 2002.

Based on the disclosure of the Bureau of Treasury the Malampaya fund has earned government a revenue collection of P224.34 billion since 2002 , with an outstanding balance of P182.29 billion as of June 22, 2016.

In 2016, revenue estimate reached P27.1 billion but proposed expenditure is only P1.04 billion.

Another author, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, a member of the opposition Magnificent Seven, said it is about time for the Malampaya Fund to directly benefit power consumers.

“Over the years, the Malampaya Fund, whose utilization was meant for financing resource development and exploration programs and projects has been tapped instead to fund non-energy related programs such as rice sufficiency programs, relief operations and the AFP Modernization Fund,” Alejano said.

According to Velasco, enactment of the measure would “provide substantial relief to power consumers” following the promulgation of a Energy Regulatory Commission decision setting the universal charge for recovery of National Power Corporation’s Stranded Contract Costs.