Full implementation of subsidized electricity rate program to begin on Jan. 1

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6) — The government has extended the deadline for the Lifeline Rate Program to allow more people to register for discounted power rates.

"To allow for the roll-out of more aggressive promotion and registration efforts from DUs (Distribution Utilities), consumers and the government, as well as for the review of the registration requirements, the full implementation of the Lifeline Rate Program is hereby moved to January 2024," said a joint statement released on Tuesday by the Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy.

It said despite an observed increase in the number of qualified users who registered for the program, there was still a considerable number who have yet to take part.

Only those who have approved applications for the program can avail of the benefits, it added.

The Lifeline Rate program covers Meralco subscribers who are unable to pay their bills, including beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), or customers considered to be living below the poverty threshold set by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The program was supposed to roll out this month.

It is based on the annual certified list of 4Ps beneficiaries. Those who remain in the updated list are eligible. Should they become delisted, they can apply for a Social Welfare and Development Office (SWDO) certification if they fall below the poverty line.

Non-4Ps beneficiaries can avail of the special rate for three years from the date of the SWDO certification.

The subsidized rates are given to low-income customers using electricity below 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) who cannot afford to pay their bills at full cost. Discounts range from 25% to 100% depending on consumption.

Meralco said application for the program is ongoing and would continue even beyond Jan. 1, 2024.

A separate statement released by the Department of Social Welfare and Development on Wednesday cited the Department of Energy, which said there were 47,171 registrants for the lifeline program as of Aug. 30.