Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed a resolution aiming to identify the short, medium, and long-term effects of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on the power sector and consumers.
Under Senate Bill No. 361, the senator hopes to look into how consumers can cope with payments of all electricity bill obligations after the implemented ECQ due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to a report.
To provide some relief to the consumers, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has ordered all distribution utilities (DUs) and Retail Electricity Suppliers (RES) to provide a grace period in electricity bills payment covered by the ECQ period from March 16 to April 30, without interest, penalties, fees, and other charge. The ERC has also greenlighted the staggered payments scheme for four months.
Gatchalian also wants to know the consequences on the generation charge being paid by consumers if DUs are not able to reach the required minimum energy offtake.
For DUs and power generation companies, the ERC has suspended the payment of all fees of the power firms and DUs due within the quarantine period
With the suspension and extensions, Gatchalian wants to know if gencos can continue with their operations and avoid the worst-case scenario of shutting down that could cause 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 kuryent. Ang patuloy na pagbagsak ng konsumo ng kuryente ay maaring makaapekto sa energy security ng ating bansa,” said Gatchalian.
“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 added.