By Hannah Torregoza
The bicameral conference committee has approved the proposed “Murang Kuryente Act” which would help consumers avail of lower electricity costs.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, head of the Senate committee on energy and principal sponsor of the measure, confirmed this after the meeting of the bicam panel at the Senate.
The bill, which was filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, authorizes the use of the ₱207-billion Malampaya Fund to pay off the stranded contract costs and stranded debt of the National Power Corporation (Napocor).
“If an ordinary consumer consumes 200 kilowatt hour per month, they would be able to save almost P170 per month which is more or less, four kilos of rice,” Gatchalian told reporters in a press briefing.
The senator also said at least 16 million households would benefit from the measure once President Rodrigo Duterte signs it into law.
“We are hoping that the President would support this bill because this is the first measure where our consumers will directly benefit,” Gatchalian said.
“If you check at our electricity bill, you would see an item indicating universal charges for stranded costs and stranded debts. That would be removed once this bill becomes a law,” he assured.
Gatchalian said only 60 to 70 percent of the Malampaya fund would be used to remove the stranded costs and stranded debts.
Gatchalian said the rest of the fund would be used to explore other sources of energy.
“Not all of the Malampaya fund would be utilized…based on our estimate, around P100-billion would be left…which could be used for energy development or other energy-related projects,” he said.
Gatchalian recalled, the last time the Malampaya fund was used was for fertilizer funds, farm-to-market road projects which are not energy-related.
However, Congress would have to wait until May to ratify the bicameral conference committee report before the enrolled copy of the bill is transmitted to Malacañang for the President’s signature.
Both the Senate and House went on recess in preparation for the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections. Congress will resume sessions on May 20.