MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a resolution that seeks to look into the effects of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on both the power sector and consumers.
Under Senate Resolution (SB) No. 361, Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate committee on energy, said he wants to look into how consumers can cope with the payments of their electricity bills once the quarantine currently being enforced in Luzon is lifted. The ECQ was enforced to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
To recall, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) earlier ordered all Distribution Utilities (DUs) such as the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and Retail Electricity Suppliers (RES) to provide a grace period for consumers in the payment of electricity bills due from March 16 to April 30.
In the said order, no interest, penalties, and other fees will be charged to consumers.
Gatchalian likewise called for an inquiry to determine the need for a financial stimulus package to ensure that the power sector can provide a continuous and reliable supply of energy while protecting consumers.
This, as the ERC suspended the payment of all fees of DUs to power generation companies (gencos) due within the quarantine period.
With the suspension of electricity bill and DU payments, Gatchalian wants to check if generation companies can continue with their operations and prevent power interruptions.
“Nakita natin sa pag-implement ng enhanced community quarantine ang pagbaba ng transport, industrial, at commercial activities sa bansa, na nagresulta sa pagbaba din ng pagkonsumo ng kuryente. Ang patuloy na pagbagsak ng konsumo ng kuryente ay maaring makaapekto sa energy security ng ating bansa,” said Gatchalian.
(We saw that in the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine and the decline in the transport, industrial, and commercial activities in the country, this resulted in the decline of energy consumption. The continuous decline in the consumption of energy could affect our energy security.)
“In preparing for these possible effects, it is necessary for Congress to determine the necessity of a financial stimulus package for the power sector with the end goal of ensuring a continuous and reliable supply of energy while protecting the consumers,” he said.
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