The House Committee on Energy has passed the “Murang Kuryente” law, aiming to decrease electricity rates by paying the stranded debts and contract costs of state-owned National Power Corporation (NPC) which are being passed on to consumers.
The measure will be discussed at the plenary, then go into a second reading, third, and final reading.
Under the proposed bill, the government will pay the stranded debts of NPC by getting a share of the Malampaya fund amounting to P123 billion.
As defined by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the stranded contract costs of NPC are “excess of the contracted cost of electricity under eligible contracts over the actual selling price of the contracted energy output of such contracts in the market.”
Consumers pay the stranded cost as universal charges in their monthly electric bills.
EPIRA further described the stranded debts of NPC as “any unpaid financial obligations of NPC which have not been liquidated by the proceeds from the sales and privatization of NPC assets.”
The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation takes responsibility all of the NPC’s obligations and stranded contract costs.
Under the measure, it allows PSALM to utilize the P123 billion fund from the Malampaya fund to pay for NPC’s stranded debts until 2023.
1-CARE party-list Representative Carlos Ramon Uybarreta said that using the Malampaya funds to pay for the NPC’s stranded debts may cause a P0.57 per kilowatt hour reduction in electricity bills.
“If all goes well, the House can have the Murang Kuryente Act passed on second reading this week and third and final reading the following week before the House adjourns session on February 6,” he added.
On the other hand, Bayan Muna party-list is doubtful of the measure.
Bayan Muna party-list chair Neri Colmenares said the measure will bypass the law that governs the Malampaya fund.
He added that the money would be diverted so that the Executive Department could use it on their own decision.
“Para tuloy hinayaan lang natin na lustayin ang Malampaya funds nang ganun na lang, lalo pa kapag in-overvalue nila ang stranded cost ng NPC,” Colmenares said.
“While it is good that we want to lower the rate of electricity, corporations should not be the ones to benefit from the taxpayers’ money,” he added.