MANILA – All lifeline consumers nationwide will enjoy free consumption of electricity to ease their plight amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced on Wednesday.

In a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4, Nograles said customers who consumed not more than 50 kilowatt-hours will be provided free electricity for the month of March to April.

“‘Yung mga tinatawag na lifeline consumer ng mga electric cooperative dito sa Luzon, maging sa Visayas at Mindanao…, libre na po ang inyong konsumo sa loob ng March to April billing period (To lifeline consumers of electric cooperatives in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, your electricity consumption for March to April billing period is now free),” he said.

Nograles said some three million poor Filipino consumers would benefit from the electricity subsidy program dubbed as “Pantawid Liwanag.”

Pantawid Liwanag, a corporate social responsibility program led by the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA), targets poor electricity consumers affected by the health crisis.

In a statement issued on April 8, National Electrification Administration (NEA) administrator Edgardo Masongsong said electric cooperatives are working on a program of subsidizing the electricity needs of lifeline consumers.

Nograles thanked NEA, PHILRECA, and the electric cooperatives for looking for ways to help the poor.

“Target na tulungan ng Pantawid Liwanag ang tatlong milyong mahihirap na consumer ng mga electric cooperative. Salamat NEA, PHILRECA at mga electric coop sa inyong tulong at ambag sa Bayanihang ito (Panatawid Liwanag intends to help three million poor consumers of electronic cooperatives. Thanks to NEA, PHILRECA, and electric cooperatives for your help),” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the rising number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country.

The ECQ in Luzon was initially set to expire on April 13, but was extended until April 30.

Nograles ensured that there is sufficient power supply in Luzon amid the ECQ in the entire island.

“As for the power demands in Luzon, the Department of Energy reports that we have an available capacity of 11,795 megawatts, which is greater than the actual peak demand of 7,323 megawatts in Luzon. This means we currently have an excess capacity of 4,742 megawatts,” Nograles said.

Other local governments in Visayas and Mindanao have also imposed an ECQ following the reported cases of Covid-19 infections in their respective localities.

More than 90 electric cooperatives in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao have so far provided a 30-day grace period for consumers to settle their electricity bills, on top of the cancelation of surcharges and power disconnections for those who failed to pay on time. (PNA)

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